Football

Argentina must prove credentials against Switzerland

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Thus far Argentina haven't rocked the World Cup. One mind boggling stat to consider, before you go into detail of their campaign; without Lionel Messi's goals Argentina would have finished bottom of their group. Consider the ramifications of that.

However Messi has played and duly delivered the goods, four goals in the group stage ensured that his side qualified as top dogs of Group F as expected, but of course you cannot go by this rule just for Argentina as a number of other sides have had most of their goals come from a single player.

Argentina's strength in depth

But it must be registered that there is a wealth of attacking talent on show in this Argentina side and yet Messi is the only one who's made any relative inroads. Sergio Aguero has been injured and wasn't 100%, Gonzalo Higuain hasn't really had any time to showcase his talent, and the calibre of players out wide such at Ezequiel Lavezzi and Angel di Maria have all disappointed so far.

Switzerland have a large but not insurmountable hurdle to overcome. Yes it would be a shock for Argentina to depart at this stage considering the hype that surrounded them pre-tournament, but experienced coach Ottmar Hitzfeild will not his team go out without a fight. However, that being said, they can't repeat the mistakes that his team made during their 5-2 humbling by France, which put their qualification in temporary jeopardy. 

Potential silver lining?

They do have hope. Argentina have not looked entirely convincing at the back and unlike arch rivals Brazil they do not boast strength in depth in this area. This is mostly mitigated by their prowess going forward and the obvious benefit of Messi, but Switzerland will look to use their pace on the break to carve out openings, and they will have chances, you can be sure of that.

Xherdan Shaqiri will be the man they look to to provide the spark, the 22-year-old has had a good tournament so far, which culminated in a hat trick against Honduras which inevitably sealed their passage to the knockout stage.

Swiss talent

The Swiss do have a nucleus of talent that is young, vibrant and hungry to prove themselves, and something they have always had is a well organised and disciplined look about them. Players like Josep Drmic of Bayer Leverkusen, Granit Xhaka and Ricardo Rodriguez all ply their trade in a German league which has come on leaps and bounds in terms of quality across the board, and this core could be the key to beating Argentina.

If they hold their discipline and play to their strengths and take their chances they are more than capable of causing a surprise -  Just look at their victory against Spain in the opening group game in the 2010 World Cup.

One worrying factor for Argentina's opponents is that they don't seem to have even hit fourth gear yet. We could well see a different side who scraped through the uninspiring Group F.

From what I've seen thus far Messi & Co. will have too much for the brave Swiss. The speed of the Argentina attack with will be too much for the Swiss defence and they can outscore them to boot. Messi, as expected, will be key, but he will be looking for some of his compatriots to start helping him out and pulling their weight.

Verdict: Argentina to go through comfortably, Switzerland to hold out until half time

Score prediction: 2-0

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Topics:
Lionel Messi
World Cup
Argentina Football
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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