Inspired by the in-form Lionel Messi, Argentina have won all three group games at the 2014 World Cup and they will fancy their chances of progressing into the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Switzerland made it through in spite of the heavy defeat to France and they will be looking to show a considerable improvement in the second match where they will be wearing the underdogs tag.
The reality is Argentina arrived at the tournament finals after winning the first place in the South American Zone of the World Cup qualifiers, but they were still not really seen as one of the favourites for the trophy. Three games into the 2014 World Cup and Los Albicelestes have the 100% record intact, but everybody agrees they have yet to really hit the ground running. Alejandro Sabella was lucky to have magician Lionel Messi close to his best, with the Barcelona superstar scoring decisive goals in all three matches to ensure his side remain on course towards the final stages. But, as the tournament draws to a close, Argentina will be facing much stronger teams than those that were in Group F, meaning they need to raise their game considerably and do it quickly or else they will be packing their bags. With Sergio Aguero offering almost no contribution following an injury-plagued season, his latest problem could prove to be a blessing in disguise as fit Ezequiel Lavezzi or Rodrigo Palacio should be of bigger importance to the team in the Switzerland game. While Argentina are still not playing as a team supposed to be fighting for the trophy, the sheer individual quality of Messi, Di Maria and co. should be enough to see off the Swiss.
Similar to their next opponents, Switzerland eased off to the first place in their qualifying group, ending the competition unbeaten, but arguably the easiest group in the European Zone did not leave them well prepared for the tournament finals. Even the opening match against never-weaker Ecuador proved they could face all sorts of problems in the latter stages, with Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side very fortunate to come away with all three points. The 5-2 loss to France served as another proof that Switzerland defence cannot really cope with world-class strikers, especially when calamitous Philippe Senderos is on the pitch. The boss has since preferred Fabian Schar to the former Fulham stopper, but with both full-backs very active in the attacking phase, the Rossocrochiati will have to play a perfect game if they want to prevent Argentina from scoring too many. On the other hand, the Swiss have got plenty of attacking talent in the ranks, but the best they can hope for is a high-scoring defeat.
Argentina seem to be slowly raising their game and with Leo Messi full of confidence after bagging 4 goals in 3 games, they should be trusted to win this match, even if they are unlikely to keep a clean sheet. Switzerland have enough attacking potential to hurt the opposition, but their back line could face a nightmare afternoon on Tuesday.
Verdict: Home win + both teams to score
Best Odds: 11/5
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