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World Cup 1/4 Final Betting Preview: Argentina v Belgium
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QUARTER-FINAL

Saturday 5th July 2014 17:00 LOC / 21:00 BST/06.00 AEST Arena Fonte Nova Salvador, Brazil 

 

Argentina Screenshot 2014-05-28 07.25.37

• Rojo suspended and with no natural replacement in the squad Argentina may struggle on the left. • Aguero still a major doubt and unlikely to be risked from the start with a thigh injury.
• Struggled to break through an organised Swiss side and lucky to win in extra time.

Unavailable

Rojo – LB – Suspension

Team News

Doubtful

Aguero – ST – 20%

Returning

None

Expected Team (4-3-3)

Screenshot 2014-07-04 11.00.01

Argentina have a major problem in defence after getting through their tough Round of 16 match with a late winner against Switzerland.

Marcos Rojo has been ruled out after picking up his 2nd booking of the tournament in the Round of 16 game. Argentina do not have a natural replacement in the squad, with their defensive options coming in the form of Campagnaro, Basanta and Demichelis. Basanta is likely to start after playing some of the season at LB for Monterrey, his club side.

Sergio Aguero is still a major doubt with a thigh strain suffered in the final group game against Nigeria. He is unlikely to be risked from the start if he is available at all and so Lavezzi should continue up front, despite a limited performance against Switzerland. Rodrigo Palacio is another option should Alex Sabella wish to change things.

The rest of the side is expected to remain the same despite once again failing to put in a performance that justifies their tag as one of the favourites to win the tournament.

Bench (from): Andújar GK, Orion GK, Campagnaro CB, Demichelis CB, Biglia DM, Rodriguez RM/AM, Perez CM, A. Fernandez RW, Alvarez AM, Aguero SS/ST, Palacio ST/LW

 

Tactical Keys to the Game:

  •   Looked poor for long periods against the Swiss as they were stifled through the middle of the pitch and forced to cross the balls from wide areas. The quality on the crosses was severely lacking and with Basanta likely to come in on the left to provide width but not being a natural full back this is expected to dip even further.
  •   Messi has had to pull Argentina through so many games, almost single handedly. Switzerland had 3 men around him in some parts of the game on Tuesday and if Belgium fail to mark him closely he could find the freedom to hurt them.
  •   Argentina struggled to deal with the talented Swiss players such as Xhaka and Shaqiri running at them, showing a lack of mobility at the back. Belgium have some real quality in this area and if Hazard, De Bruyne and Mirallas are given space to run at the defence Argentina could find themselves in trouble.

    Motivational Keys to the Game:

 Struggling with the weight of expectation and failing to play the kind of football the fans are expecting, Argentina have just done enough so far without impressing in any of their games. Messi has shone at spells despite this and they will rely on him once again to lift them.

 

Belgium Screenshot 2014-05-27 12.24.22

• Appeared to pick up no fresh injuries in 2-1 win over USA, so just Vanden Borre absent for this one. • Still a big dilemma for Wilmots up front, with Origi and Lukaku both playing their roles last night. • Should benefit from playing a team who will attack them and leave spaces to be countered into.

Unavailable

Vanden Borre – RB/LB – Injury

Team News

Doubtful

Vermaelen – CB/LB – 10%

Returning

Defour – CM – Suspension

 

Expected Team (4-2-3-1)

Screenshot 2014-07-04 11.05.15

After a gruelling 2-1 win against USA to progress to this stage Marc Wilmots will assess the fitness of his players before beginning to plan for Argentina in the quarter-final, with captain Vincent Kompany playing 120 minutes through pain to help his side advance last night.

Kompany is expected to be given rest and should be fine, while the extra days off should also see Thomas Vermaelen being able to return to the bench. With Steven Defour back from his one-game suspension this means that only Anthony Vanden Borre is out, so Wilmots has a very strong squad to choose from should he wish to change anything.

The coach still has a major dilemma over Divock Origi and Romelu Lukaku in attack, with the youngster given the nod against USA and playing for 90 minutes until Lukaku came on to do the damage to a tired defence in extra time. He may attempt to do the same again here, but risks upsetting Lukaku whose confidence should now be higher.

Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne are automatic choices in behind him but Dries Mertens will come under threat from the extra pace of Kevin Mirallas for the counter attack, with the Everton man excellent off the bench as well in the last game. Axel Witsel will certainly play but the position alongside him may be up for grabs, with Marouane Fellaini perhaps lacking the defensive attributes and mobility for a game like this one. Moussa Dembele could well be handed a recall as a result.

Bench (from): Bossut GK, Mignolet GK, Ciman CB, Vermaelen CB/LB, Lombaerts CB, Defour CM, Dembele CM/AM/LW, Chadli RW/AM/CM, Januzaj RW/LW/AM, Mirallas RW/LW/SS, Lukaku ST

 

Tactical Keys to the Game:

  •   This could be the first game that Wilmots’ side are able to demonstrate their counter-attacking abilities to the fullest, with Argentina typically looking to dominate possession inside of their opponent’s half. Pablo Zabaleta has looked very vulnerable to pace throughout the tournament and so Hazard will be vital to Belgium’s chances from his role on the left.
  •   Another area where Belgium could have joy against Alejandro Sabella’s team is on set pieces, which they are really yet to profit from in the tournament so far. Throughout the squad there is a difference of 3.74cm per player but simply within the expected starting elevens there looks set to be at least two physical mismatches from corners and free kicks.
  •   Defensively, the movement of Lionel Messi between the lines will need to be tracked, with lessons to be learned from the way in which the Switzerland dual defensive shield handled Argentina’s star player. This could influence the coach’s team selection, with a more naturally defensive-minded central midfielder than Fellaini to partner Witsel a possibility.

    Motivational Keys to the Game:

  •   Belgium have never been at this stage of a World Cup since 1986, when they ultimately went one further and made the Semi-Final before being knocked out by Argentina due to two goals from Diego Maradona. Revenge could well play a part in the narrative for their squad in the build to this contest, with the circumstances fairly similar here once again.
  •   On top of this after four gruelling matches against largely functional teams they may just relish the chance to pit their wits against a team generally considered to be “stronger” than they are, who will not be content to sit back and soak up.

 

 

Football Form Labs Betting Preview: Argentina (5) v Belgium (11)

Both teams required extra time in the second round before advancing and we could see some tired legs on display here. Argentina were the less impressive of the two teams as they struggled to create much against a stubborn Swiss side and had looked to be heading for penalties before Lionel Messi provided the assist for Angel di Maria’s winner. Nevertheless it extended their unbeaten streak to 10 games during which they’ve kept eight clean sheets.

Argentina are unbeaten in 10 games against UEFA nations with eight wins and they’ve won nine of 11 unbeaten matches played in South America against European countries since 1998. However, their record against top-15 ranked sides has been poor in recent times as they’ve won just one of their last seven such matches with five draws including four nil-nils.

Belgium produced their best performance of the tournament against the USA but were hanging on at the end of extra-time as they appeared to struggle physically. Since the start of qualifying for these finals they’ve gone 14 games without defeat, including 12 wins, and 10 of those matches had fewer than three goals with none having more than this amount. However, only one of those opponents was ranked above them and none were in the top 10. In fact since 2007 they’ve lost 10 of their 11 matches against top-10 ranked sides with six defeats by more than one goal.

Since 1986 12 of the 28 World Cup quarter-finals have finished level after 90 minutes, with 16 having fewer than three goals and 16 being level at half-time. The last time both teams had required extra- time in the second round before a quarter-final was the Spain v South Korea match in 2002 and that finished 0-0 before going all the way to penalties.

While both teams had tiring matches in the second round Belgium’s match was played at a far higher tempo and we think that fact, combined with the excellent record of South American nations against European sides in South America, makes Argentina a touch of value. We would expect it to be a tight game, however, with neither side likely to push too hard too early after their exertions on Tuesday.

 

 

Recommendations:

HT Draw at $2.06 with Screenshot 2014-05-21 12.49.05

Correct score (half units)  

Argentina 1-0 and 2-0 at $7.0 and $10.0 both with Screenshot 2014-05-27 08.55.43

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