Argentina (4-2-3-1):¬†Romero, Zabaleta, Garay, Fernandez, Basanta, Mascherano, Gago, Lavezzi, Messi, Di Maria, Higuain
Argentina have won every game in the World Cup thus far but face their biggest test yet against Belgium in the last-eight. They will however be without left-back Marcos Rojo, who is suspended for the fixture with Basanta covering up for his absence. The team will rely heavily on Lionel Messi, who almost single handedly dragged the South Americans into the knock-out stages before also supplying the assist for Di Maria’s winner against Switzerland.
Belgium (4-2-3-1):¬†Courtois, Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen, Witsel, Dembele, Hazard, Bruyne, Mirallas,¬†Lukaku
Belgium have been impressive thus far but still had to take the game to 120 minutes against a Tim Howard-inspired USA to progress. Coach Marc Wilmots has an almost injury-free squad to choose from and could start with either Romelu Lukaku or Divock Origi up front, but could deploy Lukaku for his hold up play against the Argentine defence. Mirallas is also vying to to start after impressing against the US, meaning Fellaini may have to settle for a place on the bench.
If Belgium scores. It’s gonna be from Hazard this time
‚ÄĒ Knife (@NaayefFawaz) July 4, 2014
‚ÄúThe ball sticks to Messi‚Äôs feet and he‚Äôs very cool in front of the goal. I always watch him and try to imitate him.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ James Rodriguez
‚ÄĒ Lionel Messi FanClub (@LMessifanclub) July 4, 2014
‚ÄĒ barcastuff (@barcastuff) July 4, 2014
Maradona scores two amazing goals in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Belgium in the 1986 World Cup semi-finals. The Argentine would go on to lift the trophy for the South Americans.
Argentina vs. Belgium: An Alternative Preview
Argentina have won three of their four encounters with Belgium, scoring 10 goals and conceding four.
In the World Cup, they have one win each: Belgium were victors in the group stages of the 1982 edition (1-0) while Argentina won 2-0 in the semi-finals four years later thanks to a Diego Maradona brace. That was their last encounter.
Since the start of the 2010 World Cup, Argentina have won eight of their nine games in the competition, their only defeat coming in the quarter finals of the 2010 edition against Germany (0-4).
Argentina have won six of their last 19 World Cup games against European sides at the World Cup.
It’s the third time in a row that Argentina have reached the quarter finals of the World Cup. However, the Albiceleste have never gone further than the quarter finals since they reached the final in 1990.
Argentina haven’t won any of their last four World Cup quarter finals outright, going through on penalties against Yugoslavia in 1990 and being eliminated in 1998 (1-2 v Netherlands), 2006 (on penalties v Germany) and 2010 (0-4 v Germany).
Belgium have reached the quarter finals of the World Cup for only the second time in their history after 1986. They eventually finished fourth.
Argentina have been victorious (via penalties or winning AET) in six of their seven World Cup games that have gone to extra-time.
Argentina and Belgium are two of four teams to have won all their games at the 2014 World Cup (extra-time included), with Colombia and the Netherlands. All four of Argentina and Belgium’s wins have been by a one goal difference.
Belgium’s six goals in this World Cup have all been scored from the 70th minute onwards. Also, four of their six goals have been scored by substitutes.
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.
Belgium and Argentina have had the most shots in this World Cup (83 and 80 respectively). Marc Wilmots’ men have also had the most attempts on target (32).
Argentina have averaged 64.3% of possession in this World Cup, the highest ratio of the tournament.
Lionel Messi has scored (4) and assisted (1) five of Argentina’s seven goals at this World Cup. Three of his four goals have been scored from outside the box.
Messi is the player who has completed the most dribbles at this World Cup (24) and created the most chances for his teammates (18).
In the last 16 game against Switzerland, Angel Di Maria attempted 12 shots, the most ever in a World Cup match by an Argentinean player (1966-2014). He also scored the only goal of the game.
Javier Mascherano has won more tackles than any other player at this World Cup (18 out of 22 attempted).
Kevin De Bruyne delivered the final ball for a Belgian shot 10 times against the USA, more than any other player in a game at this World Cup. He was also involved in both Belgian goals, scoring the first and assisting the second.