Argentina have failed to impress so far despite winning every game, and may face even more difficulties when they come up against an impressive young Belgium side. The tournament began with a 2-1 win against Bosnia, when an early Kolašinac own goal gave them the lead, and then Lionel Messi secured the win. Messi was on target again in the second game, as he scored right at the death to secure a 1-0 win against Iran. The Barcelona star fired a double against Nigeria, as Argentina again squeezed through by a single goal after Rojo scored the winner. In São Paulo, the Argentinians again found scoring difficult, failing to find the target in normal time, and needing a 118th minute winner from Ángel di María to ensure a quarter final tie. That being said, Argentina are unbeaten in the last 9 games, and have kept clean sheets in 6 of their last 8 matches.
Belgium also boast an unbeaten record in the tournament, winning all three group games before needing extra-time to see of USA and secure a spot in the last 8. Their tournament began with a 2-1 win against Algeria, Fellaini and Mertens grabbing the victory despite the Red Devils going 1-0 down. Their second game saw a slender 1-0 win against a resolute Russia, with young striker Divock Origi coming off the bench to grab the winner in the last few minutes. The final group game saw a 1-0 win against Korea Republic despite having 10 men for over half the game. Jan Vertonghen grabbed the only goal that day. Despite an impressive showing last time out in Salvador, they met Tim Howard in inspired form for the USA, and it took extra time to edge through. Divock Origi, who had been impressive from the bench, started, but when he was replaced by Lukaku, it was the Chelsea striker who was to turn game changer, setting up De Bruyne while grabbing one for himself in a 2-1 win. Belgium have won their last 7, but lost 2-0 against Argentina last time the two sides met in the World Cup, back in 1986. 4 years earlier, the Belgians claimed a famous victory, and would love a repeat scoreline this time. The game is likely to rest on the shoulders of Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard, and I suspect whichever has the better game while be on the winning side. I’m going for an Argentina win this time, but expect it to be an extremely tight affair with maybe just the single goal in it.
Later in the day, Salvador plays host to Netherlands against Costa Rica in the final quarter final tie. The Netherlands have won their last 6 games, scoring 15 goals in the process. The Dutch began in fine form, with a thumping 5-1 win against Spain, thanks to doubles from Robin van Persoe and Arjen Robben, while Stefan de Vrij was also on target. The second game was a tighter affair, but Holland again secured the win as Robben and Van Persie were again on the scoresheet, while young Memhpis Depay grabbed the vital winner. The final group game saw another impressive attacking performance, with Leroy Fer and Depay ensuring a 2-0 victory and progress to the knock-out stages. The game against Mexico saw Louis Van Gaal’s side overturn a 1-0 deficit with 2 late goals, from Sneijder and Huntelaar, to progress.
Costa Rica shocked many in progressing from the group stages, but find themselves in the quarter finals on merit. In a group containing England, Italy and Uruguay, Los Ticos got off to a flyer when they beat Uruguay 3-1 in their opening game. Arsenal striker Joel Campbell was in fine form in that game, scoring the opening goal, while goals from Duarte and Ureña completed the victory. In Recife, it was a far tighter affair, but Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz was on target that day to snatch a 1-0 victory and take them into the final game against England having already ensured qualification. The final game proved somewhat of a damp squib, both sides happy to play out a goalless draw. Into the knockout stages, Costa Rica took on Greece, themselves surprise qualifiers, and Ruiz was again on hand to grab the opener. Despite being down to 10 men for over 30 minutes, it proved heartbreak for Costa Rica when the conceeded right at the death, and then almost lost the game with the last attack of the game. However, they managed to hold on for penalties, and produced a convincing 5-3 win in the spot kicks to go through. Despite their form so far, they came into the tournament in poor form, and I honestly can’t see them coping with the attacking power of the Dutch, so I’m going for a Netherlands win in this one.Share this: