World Cup 2014: Day 20
Argentina go into their game against Switzerland unbeaten in their last 8. The South American side were many peoples favourites for the tournament before the World Cup began, and although they haven’t really hit top gear yet, they have still found success in every game. They sit just one place above Switzerland in the FIFA rankings, but on paper at least there is a distinct gulf in class. Lionel Messi, arguably the best player of his generation, has slowly been finding his feet in this World Cup, scoring in every game so far, and will look to continue that feat when they face the Swiss in São Paulo later. Agüero could miss out after picking up an injury in the 3-2 win against Nigeria, but in Lavezzi they have a world class replacement.
Switzerland finished 2nd behind France in their group after showing mixed form. The European side were in fantastic form in qualifiers, remaining unbeaten, and started their World Cup finals campaign with a 2-1 win over Ecuador, before going down 5-2 to France, coming back from 5-0 down. In the final group game, they looked far more composed beating Honduras 3-0, as Bayern star Xherdan Shaqiri finally found his feet, firing in a hat-trick. The last time the two sides met Argentina won 3-1 back in 2012, Shaqiri and a Messi hat-trick that day, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see both score again this afternoon. Switzerland drew both previous games 1-1, and would be happy with the same result this time and taking the game to penalties I feel. I think the game will be a tight affair, so going Argentina to win by a single goal in this one.
Belgium head into their game against USA on the back of 3 straight wins in the competition so far, despite having not yet hit anything approaching their best form. The Red Devils also boast four clean sheets in their last 5 games, from a defence including one of the best young goalkeepers in Thibaut Courtois, and Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany, largely considered one of the best defenders in the World. It is further forward where they have perhaps disappointed, Chelsea star Eden Hazard yet to live up to anywhere near his full potential in this tournament. That being said, he has currently got 2 assists to his name, and will see this game as a huge chance to showcase his potential. After a slow star against Algeria, recovering from a goal down to win 2-1, Belgium then beat Russia and Korea Republic both by a solitary goal, and would be happy with a similar outcome again.
USA have surprised many so far in this tournament, not least since their qualification from a group including Ghana and Portugal as well. They were impressive in both a 2-1 win against Ghana and in their 2-2 draw against Portugal, in which a goal in the very last minute prevented them again taking all 3 points. And despite 1-0 defeat against Germany in the final game, they have again impressed many with their energy and work rate. Clint Dempsey is currently top scorer in the competition for them, with 2 goals to his name, and will be keen to add to his tally this time out. The last time the two sides faced off, back in May last year, he was on target along with Cameron, although goals from Mirallas, Fellaini and a double from Benteke, who misses the World Cup through injury, ensured the win for Belgium. I expect the game to be tighter this time around, and so am going for under 1.5 goals and extra time in this one.Share this: