Argentina v Belgium Preview

Quarter-Final | Saturday 05 July | Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, Brasília | 18:00




Argentina and Belgium complete another mouthwatering quarter-final with both sides boasting many well known players including the great Lionel Messi.

This is Belgium’s golden generation and they have so far backed up their label as the darkhorses to go all the way. Argentina are a team who were expected to fire on all cylinders as they boast the best attacking line-up but have so far been reliant on Messi to get the goals.

The winner of this match will play either the Netherlands or Costa Rica for a spot in the final.

To Win (90mins)
Argentina 11/10
Draw 23/10
Belgium 26/10

ARGENTINA

Argentina went through to the final eight of the World Cup after a nervy 1-0 win over Switzerland in the last-16.

After a disjointed first half which the Swiss had the slightly better of in terms of chances, Argentina began to take control of the match.

They could not find a goal in regular time. Extra time was needed to decide the contest, which was settled by a late, late Angel Di Maria goal after an incisive Messi run.

Coming off a fabulous season with Real Madrid, Di Maria was expected to be one of Argentina's key contributors during this World Cup.

The winger has not lived up to those expectations so far, however. There have been a few moments of class, but in general he has been off his game.

He'll need to improve against Belgium to take some pressure off Messi. Argentina were extremely lucky not to concede after Di Maria’s goal.

However, few teams achieve World Cup glory without a healthy dollop of luck. Alejandro Sabella's men should be thankful it's going their way.

Argentina started the tournament as one of the strongest teams on paper primarily because of the presence of Lionel Messi. However, there were speculations that the team was over dependent on their captain and that has been the case in Brazil.

Messi, who was able to save his country in all the group matches, was restricted against Switzerland but the three time Ballon d’Or winner eventually came up with the goods.

The Argentine defence, who lack in pedigree to their attacking teammates have held their own so far, conceding three goals in four matches.

Sergio Aguero could return to boost the South Americans attack. The Manchester City striker limped off in Argentina’s final group game against Nigeria and missed the Switzerland clash.

He has since been seen training with the rest of the team and will be hoping to make his mark on the big stage.

BELGIUM

Belgium beat United States 2-1 in Salvador after extra-time in a thrilling second round match that the Belgians thoroughly deserved.

The Red Devils had 30 attempts on goal in the 90 minutes but could not find a way past Tim Howard and the goalless match went into extra-time.

Kevin de Bruyne broke the deadlock three minutes into the additional period. Romelu Lukaku then doubled Belgium's lead after 105 minutes.

USA pulled one back and only a save from Thibaut Courtois off Clint Dempsey preserved their lead and meant they would face Argentina on Saturday.

Belgium will certainly travel to Brasilia with confidence after they finally took flight as an attacking force against the US.

Following criticism of their defensively sound if uninspiring performances in winning Group H, they were a different proposition in Salvador on Tuesday evening, where they had 27 shots on goal and would have won comfortably inside 90 minutes but for the brilliance of Howard.

Unsurprisingly, Chelsea's Eden Hazard has effortlessly made his presence felt in Brazil. The 23-year-old has not been at his best for Belgium, having admitted to reporters that he was a "2/10" for 80 minutes against Russia, but has made an impact for his country nevertheless.

He is one player Belgium will be counting on to outshine Messi here. Alongside Hazard, Divock Origi has been a revelation for Belgium, proving a more-than-adequate replacement for the out-of-form Romelu Lukaku.

Origi was handed a start as the lone striker after impressing in the group stage of the competition and was the Red Devils’ biggest threat to a strong American backline throughout.

He is a deceptive player with lighting pace and Argentina could have problems trying to deal with him.

Betting PredictionARGENTINA 11/10
This game is a rematch of their 1986 World Cup semi-final match, when Argentina beat Belgium 2-0, with Diego Maradona bagging a brace and going on to lead his country to glory. That was the last time Argentina captured the World Cup and La Albiceleste will be hoping Messi can repeat Maradona’s heroics. This will be a highly competitive contest as both sides prefer attacking their opponents and scoring goals rather than sitting back. Belgium have a more balanced team with better defenders but Argentina's advantage will still be the presence of Messi. The little maestro is tipped to lead Argentina to victory at 11/10. 

Written by Wayde Dorkin for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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