Underperformers Clash In Do Or Die

Can Messi be the saviour for Argentina again?

Argentina Flag

Argentina v Belgium

Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília
Sunday July 6 – 2:00 AM (AEST)

Belgium Flag

There's everything to play for and nothing to lose, when Argentina and Belgium  clash in Brasilia on Sunday morning (AEST). 

You really wonder if Argentina would be still in contention on football's biggest stage without arguably the world’s best player Lionel Messi. The Barca forward has single-handedly lifted his side to the quarter-finals, being involved in just about all of his side’s goals. Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria snatched hero status off Messi during the week when he scored the decisive goal for Argentina to see off a stubborn Swiss outfit in extra-time. Alejandro Sabella’s side possess one of the most feared attacks in the tournament, but you wouldn’t think it, judging by the way they have performed so far. Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero missed Argentina’s clash with Switzerland with a thigh injury and remains a major doubt to line up against Belgium. Eziquiel Lavezzi replaced him in that match, but struggled to generate any real dangerous chances.

Like their opponents, Belgium has struggled to hit top gear in Brazil. With three group matches won by a solitary goal against seemingly weak opponents, the Belgians have been far from convincing. Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard seems out of place in right midfield, a spot he plays so well in at club level. Romelu Lukaku was tipped to cause havoc in the tournament, but it took him until injury time in his fourth game to record a goal. He started the match against the USA on the bench and it will be interesting to see if that goal has changed the mind of coach Marc Wilmots. Captain Vincent Kompany appears to have shaken off a groin injury which forced him out of Belgium's win over South Korea. It’s a massive boost for the Belgians to have their skipper at full fitness, and they’ll need his leadership skills to dictate play from the back.

Although these sides have been performing well below par, this is shaping up to be a tantalizing match-up. One of these sides is going to have to lift its game to the standards we know its capable of - it’s just a question of which nation stands tall. Can Messi continue his form and steer Argentina into the final four? Or will Belgium stun the South Americans and live up to their tag as the tournament’s dark horses?


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