Argentina v Belgium - World Cup 2014 quarter-finals preview

Argentina and Belgium meet today at 17.00 UK time in Brazilia and one of these teams will be the third semifinalist after Germany and Brazil booked the first two spots. The winner of this match will play either Netherlands or Costa Rica, and it seems this semifinals pair has a better draw as Germany and Brazil are playing the final before the final. Whoever wins this match has a really good chance of making it to the final.

Argentina have failed to shine so far and they needed to be rescued by jaded Lionel Messi in each and every match they've played so far, but Germany and Brazil have performed in the same manner and they're in the semifinals now. The big teams are finding victories in an unspectacular way and their perhaps more exciting opponents are going home one by one. In that light, what Argentina are doing in this tournament might not be so bad after all. More was expected of them on the pitch but they're getting what is the most important - the victories.

The Belgians might fit in that same sentence as they are probably the least exciting team in this tournament but they have progressed through the ranks to find themselves in the quarter-finals. Belgium have yet to score a goal before the 70th minute, as they only open up in the final stage of the match to go for the win, and so far they've managed to win every match.

Belgium are a counter attacking team and this is the first time in this tournament they're getting the pleasure of playing against a favorite, which will allow them to assume the counter attacking stance instead of having to dictate play. They'll find it comfortable to play against Argentina as their main task will be to contain Leo Messi and then launch quick counter attacks through the wings.

The Argentinian game plan won't be much different as seven players have a simple task of winning the ball back and delivering it to one of the three forward players, most often to Messi and letting the trio do their magic and create a good goalscoring opportunity.

This will be yet another difficult chess-like match on this tournament, and it's difficult to say which team has the edge. So far Argentina would maintain a deadlock which would then be broken by Lionel Messi by one mazy dribble. The Belgians are more versatile in offense but they really need a lot of chances in order to actually find the net - and are not doing so before the final minutes as their rigid formation is preventing them from opening up enough to create danger in offense.

Argentina entered this World Cup as the second favorite, behind Brazil, and they have by far the easiest schedule in the tournament. They might reach the final without playing one of the really big teams. Belgium and Netherlands are very good teams but still they are easier to play against than the likes of Germany, France and Brazil, teams Argentina couldn't have faced in the knockout stage. In that light, Argentina should take advantage of the favorable draw and reach the semifinals, perhaps even the grand final.

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