Argentina vs Belgium
World Cup quarter-final
Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília
Live on BBC One
Argentina yet to hit their straps
Argentina and Belgium meet on Saturday evening in the quarter-final of what has been an exhilarating World Cup, and the prize for the victor will be a last four encounter against either Netherlands or Costa Rica.
Both sides have reached this stage of the competition without really having set it alight, but both Alejandro Sabella and Marc Wilmots will be more than content that their respective sides have continued to win without being at their best.
Argentina are in the last eight thanks to a narrow win in a turgid last 16 tie with Switzerland, with Angel di Maria scoring the only goal of the game in the second half of extra time.
It summed up Argentina’s campaign somewhat, although on this occasion Di Maria made the timely intervention, whereas Lionel Messi had been the saviour during the group stage.
Belgium still to reach their peak
Argentina meet a Belgium side who have also yet to reach their peak, although more clinical finishing against the USA in the last round would have ensured a resounding victory, rather than a nervous one.
Belgium completely dominated proceedings against the US but found an inspired Tim Howard in the opposition goal. It resulted in a tight 2-1 extra-time victory, but on another day it could have been a rout.
Argentina will be well aware of the attacking threat Belgium can pose, and vice versa, and this is all set up to be an absorbing tie.
Argentina: Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Basanta; Biglia, Mascherano, Di Maria; Lavezzi, Messi, Higuain.
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Mirallas, Hazard; Origi.
- Argentina have won three of their four encounters with Belgium, scoring 10 goals and conceding four.
- Argentina have won six of their last 19 World Cup games against European sides at the World Cup.
- Belgium have reached the quarter finals of the World Cup for only the second time in their history after 1986.
- Argentina have been victorious (via penalties or winning AET) in six of their seven World Cup games that have gone to extra-time.
- Belgium have only been ahead for 52 minutes in their four World Cup games so far in 2014, less than any of the seven other teams in the quarter finals.
- All of Argentina and Belgium's wins at this World Cup have been by a one-goal difference.