Many fence-sitters fancied a South American side to win it in Brazil – and Argentina are fast looking like the favourites to do so. With Neymar ruled out of the tournament, and Thiago Silva suspended for Brazil’s semi-final, Argentina have emerged ahead of the hosts as the continent’s best hope. And what a hope they have – here are THREE reasons from Argentina v Belgium to believe that Sabella’s men can go all the way:

1. Higuain’s new-found confidence

Gonzalo Higuian has looked like a man playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi all tournament. However, with the striker’s early goal against Belgium he appeared a player reborn. Having two forwards in the form that Higuain and Messi currently are will surely be too much for any side.


2. Messi sticking to the script

Messi may not have scored against Belgium, but he did play a big role in the goal. The diminutive playmaker breezed past Marouane Felliani before giving the ball to di Maria, whose deflected pass assisted Higuain. However, it was the Barcelona forward’s through ball for his Real Madrid counterpart that really impressed. If this was Messi on an ‘off day’, the rest of the teams in the tournament should remain afraid.


3. A surprising defensive solidity

A lot of the analysis of Argentina pre-World Cup focused on the team’s supposed defensive weakness. However, the game against Belgium was the third time in five attempts that the team has managed to keep a clean sheet. The team may not have top quality defenders but the ability of their forwards, Messi in particular, may be doing enough to dissuade teams from committing too many men forward.