Brazil World Cup 2014: Argentina v Switzerland

By on July 1, 2014

Argentina will face Switzerland in their round of 16 encounter as Lionel Messi looks to etch his name in history by winning his nation’s third world cup trophy but it will not be an easy task as Ottma Hitzfeld’s Switzerland side are looking to go for glory themselves. This will be the seventh international meeting between Argentina and Switzerland. Argentina are unbeaten in their previous six (W4 D2). The only previous World Cup meeting between these two sides came back in 1966, when Argentina defeated Switzerland 2-0.

Argentina’s route to the the round of 16 was not as easy as it looked bu the Albiceleste were placed in a relatively easy group and were expected to make it through. The opened their campaing against Bosnia & Herzegovnia where they opened the scoring in the very first minute of the game owing to an own goal from a Leo Messi freekick. Messi the took charge of his side in the 2nd half by scoring a wonderful solo goal that gave his sdie the two goal cushion. The game had a dramatic end as Bosnia scored a late goal to put themselves back into it but failed to get the equalizer. Argentina faced Iran in their second game and had a tough outing in against the Persians as Iran defended with a lot of bodies behind the ball and managed to keep them out for most part of the 80 minutes or so. In the 87th minute however, it was again that man Leo Messi who scored an amazing individual goal to give Argentina a one goal win and seal their qualification to the next round. The final game against Nigeria was a bit of a formality as Argentina had already earned a place in the next round. Nigeria did give them a scare in an entertaining game but Argentina ran out 3-2 winners thanks two a double from Leo Messi and a winner from Marcos Rojo.

Argentina maintained a perfect record in the group stages with three wins out of three but their form is rather deceptive as they have been sort of a one man team so far in this tournament. Out of the six goals scored so far in the World Cup, Messi has scored four while one of them was scored by Marcos Rojo and the remaining one was an own goal. The remaining attacking players have to step up and start supplying the goals if Argentina are to maintain any hopes of winning the trophy because it is going to get tougher at every stage and one man can only do so much. One thing of note in this regard is how Sabella has continuously started with both Aguero and Higuain up front and no other wide man to support Lionel Messi. Both the strikers run around the 18 yard box which makes it easier to mark them. With Aguero’s injury however, Sabella will likely start with Lavezzi on the left in this game which will give them the added width and allow them to fare well in this game.

Another thing that Sabella must be worrying about is his shaky defence. The defenders have looked vulnerable at times, especially against Nigeria where they conceded twice and Iran, who had multiple chances to score but poor finishing led them down. Switzerland host a very good attacking line up with the likes of Xhaka, Shaqiri, Drmic and Seferovic and they may cause a few problems if Argentina’s defence is not up to the task on that day.

After failing to score in seven successive World Cup appearances, Lionel Messi has netted four goals in his three appearances at the 2014 finals. Argentina have won their last three World Cup second round ties; winning on penalties versus England in 1998 and beating Mexico in both 2006 and 2010. Argentina have been knocked out only once in their six previous appearances at this stage (versus Romania in 1994). Argentina have won only 3 of their last 10 World Cup matches against a European team (D4, L3). Argentina have had an average possession figure of 65% so far at this tournament – the highest in this finals and their highest average at a World Cup finals since 1966. Four of Argentina’s last seven World Cup goals have come from outside the box, including half of their six goals (3) at this tournament.

Switzerland have had a mixed campaign so far having won one of their games but suffering a huge loss at the same time in one of their games. They opened their campaing against Ecuador where they really had to fight for a result. Ecuador opened the scoring and led the game at half time. But 2nd half substitute Mehmedi scored Switzerland’s equalizer early on in the 2nd half before Haris Seferovic scored in the final minute of the game to hand Switzerland the victory. They faced France in their second game and had high hopes from that match but Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side were handed a proper thrashing in that game. They conceded 5 goals against the French and only managed to dampen the loss with two late goals. That loss was very demoralizing for the Swiss however they had to step up in their final game and go for all three points to progress. They faced Honduras in their final game and it was the perfect moment for Xherdan Shaqiri to shine. The Bayern Munich winger scored a brilliant hat-trick in that game to ensure a 3-0 vicotry for his side and earn them all three points. They finished runners-up in their group and booked their place in the round of 16.

Switzerland have been the favorites of many neutrals in this tournament as they have a young line-up full of upcoming ambitious players and play some really entertaining football. They have a very good attacking line-up full of players capable of individual brilliance, as well as playing together as a team. Ottmar Hitzfeld will have one eye on Argentina’s shaky defence and he knows that if he can pressurize that backline, his forwards have the aility to score from the opportunities they get. He will especially rely on Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka for the creativity as both of them have the ability to unlock any defence on their day.

One problem that Switzerland face ahead of this game is their lack of quality in defense. They have a decent line-up consisting of Djourou, Senderos and Schar but it might not be able to neutralize the likes of Lionel Messi or Angel di Maria. As in the game against France, they conceded some very soft goals and to concede 5 in a World Cup game always rings some alarms. Hitzfeld will have to wokr wiht his defence and keep a tight defensive setup with the hel og his double pivot, to block out the Argentine attacks.

Switzerland have been knocked out in the second round in their two previous appearances at this stage (versus Spain in 1994 and versus Ukraine in 2006). The Swiss have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last 10 World Cup finals matches. Switzerland have won just one of their previous six World Cup matches against South American nations (W1 D1 L4), but this victory came earlier in this tournament v Ecuador. Xherdan Shaqiri scored a hat-trick in Switzerland’s final group game against Honduras – the 50th hat-trick in World Cup history.

Argentina will have to make do without Sergio Aguero who is expected to be out for the entire tournament with an injury. Ezequiel Lavezzi will come into the starting line-up in his place with the PSG winger adding much needed width to the side. Gonzalo Higuain will retain his position in the starting line-up with Leo Messi starting out wide on the right. Gago, Mascherano and Angel di Maria are expected to start in midfield.

Switzerland forward Gavranovic booked a flight back home after he suffered from a cruciate ligament injury. Apart from that, Ottmar Hitzfeld has a complete squad to chose from and he will likely go with the same team that started against Honduras. Drmic is expected to start as the lone striker upfront while Granit Xhaka will play just behind him. Behrami and Inler will start in midfield in place of Dzemaili. Fabian Schar is expected to retain his starting position owing to a good performance against Honduras.

DATE: July 1, 2014

TIME: 5:00 PM BST

VENUE: Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo

REFEREE: J. Eriksson

PROBABLE LINE-UPS:
Argentina (4-3-3):- Romero; Rojo, Fernandez, Garay, Zabaleta; di Maria, Mascherano, Gago; Lavezzi, Higuain, Messi
Switzerland (4-2-3-1):- Benaglio; Rodriguez, Djourou, Schar, Lichsteiner; Inler, Behrami; Mehmedi, Xhaka, Shaqiri; Drmic

LAST MATCH:
Argentina:- 3-2 vs Nigeria
Switzerland:- 3-0 vs Honduras

AUTHOR’s PREDICTION: Argentina 3-1 Switzerland

You must be logged in to post a comment Login