Argentina legend Diego Maradona has stressed the need for La Albicelste to put in a quality performance against Belgium if they are to have any chance of becoming world champions.
Despite winning all their matches, Argentina are yet to impress after squeezing through all four games by a one-goal margin. However the 53-year-old is particularly concerned about those in support of Messi, who are yet to find their feet at the tournament.
"Alejandro Sabella's team leaves a lot to be desired on the overall front," he wrote in his Times of India column.
"[Gonzalo] Higuain is yet to score despite playing in all four matches. I remember him getting goals after being set up by Messi in 2010.
"The uncertainty over [Sergio] Aguero and [Ezequiel] Lavezzi's form continues to be a cause for concern, while [Angel] Di Maria keeps blowing hot and cold.
"There will be two or three marking Messi, and others in the attack will have to capitalise on the gaps left open because of that.”
Reliance on Messi
Argentina have relied heavily on Messi, who has scored four goals in as many matches in the tournament. Maradona, who took charge of the side four years ago in South Africa, acknowledges that Argentina’s talisman will need to keep firing if they are to progress.
"Argentina are relying heavily on Messi and why not? When you have Leo in the team, you should exploit that advantage.
"Messi has at last found his best touch in the biggest tournament. Argentina couldn't have asked for more, but they need him to continue in this vein."
Belgium, much like their Argentine opponents, are yet to set the tournament alight. They like Argentina won all four of their matches, but needed late goals in all three of their group matches.
Maradona, after facing Belgium 32 years ago himself as a player, is impressed with the strength of Marc Wilmot’s young side.
"A quarter-final between Argentina and Belgium takes me down memory lane," he continued.
"I made my World Cup debut against them in 1982. We were the defending champions and they beat us 1-0. I was mercilessly tackled. I got my revenge in 1986 and scored twice in our 2-0 victory in the semi-finals.
"This Belgian bunch is stronger with lots of young talent. [Thibaut] Courtois is one of the most promising goalkeepers. The back four led by [Vincent] Kompany has been solid and [Jan] Vertonghen keeps the left corridor going.
"[Kevin] De Bruyne is a powerful lad at the centre, while [Eden] Hazard has improved a lot playing in the English Premier League.
"They play a compact game under coach Marc Wilmots, who was a fine player himself."
Argentina will be hoping to set up a semi-final clash with either the Netherlands or Costa Rica by beating Belgium this evening.
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