Argentina and Belgium were both thought to have brilliant attacking firepower, capable of putting any team to the sword, and then some – hard to make a case against that argument when you have the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Ezequiel Lavezzi on the Argentina side with Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas and Dries Mertens ramping up the Belgian team.
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Get the Argentina vs Belgium report HERE
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The quarterfinal clash is set for live telecast on Sony Six and Sony Six HD in India with the match starting at 1 pm local time (9.30 pm IST, 5 pm BST, 12 pm ET). The match can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. Viewers in the US can catch the action on ESPN and ABC, with the option to live stream the game HERE or HERE. UK viewers can catch the action in BBC and ITV while the matches can also be live streamed HERE or HERE. Viewers in Argentina can live stream the match HERE, while audience in North Africa and the Middle east can catch the action live online HERE. Catch the game in Australia HERE, while South Africa viewers can do so HERE. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can live stream the match HERE.
However, what looks like awesome on paper might not necessarily transpire on the field, which has pretty much been the case for the two teams at this 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Apart from Messi, none of the above mentioned forward-thinking players have had a great tournament, and one would imagine some of them need to step up if they are to move onto the semifinals and even the final.
Argentina vs Belgium promises to be a fascinating quarterfinal, but could also be an attritional one, considering the attacking form of the two teams and the tight defences. Argentina have conceded only three goals in four matches heading into the last eight encounter in Brasilia, while scoring seven, four of those coming from the boot of Messi, with the little magician also setting one up.
Belgium are even more parsimonious when it comes to letting the ball cross their goalline, with just two teams – Algeria and USA -- managing to do so, and only once each. The goalscoring hasn't been great either with the Europeans managing just six strikes in four matches, two of them coming in extra time in that brilliant match against the Americans.
It hasn't been for the want of trying from either side, though – Belgium, after all, could have easily put the game to bed well before the 90 minutes in their last 16 match against USA had it not been for a record-breaking performance from goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Yet, there is something missing, that little magic dust, which turns a team into an "OK, that was not such a bad performance" one to a "now that's what I'm talking about, you little beauty," jaw-dropper.
The missing ingredients will need to be foraged and found quickly, otherwise we could be looking at another tense, close battle again, with a solitary strike deciding the outcome of the match.
While Belgium are living the "golden generation" dream and anything from here onwards would be a little bit of a bonus, even if the expectations have risen, Argentina will be loath to suffer yet another quarterfinal exit, having bowed out at this stage in the last two World Cups.
"[We have] not reached the level we had wanted to reach [at this World Cup]," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. "Yes it would be frustrating [to go out in the quarterfinals again], but we have the hope, faith, confidence that we will move on to the semifinals.
"I believe that Belgium have a very good team, they have a golden generation. I remember in 1982 they also had a golden generation and beat Argentina. They have a lot of players that play in English and Spanish leagues. Very powerful team and we will have to be cautious when we don't have the ball."
Belgium will have two tasks when they take the field against Argentina – try to penetrate through their opponent's defences a lot better than they have done at this World Cup, and, the more important one, stop Messi. If Marc Wilmots' men allow Messi to dictate play, then Argentina will win, such is the form of their skipper and talisman at the moment.
"I think Messi has been outstanding so far in this tournament," Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen said. "He has been their main man. But if we defend like we did in our previous matches we will stop him, Aguero, Di Maria and Higuain. I'm convinced of that."
There is a bit of World Cup history between these two teams with Belgium defeating Argentina 1-0 in 1982 as Sabella mentioned as their ploy to man-mark Diego Maradona (remember that iconic picture?) worked perfectly.
Undoubtedly, Messi will get special attention from Belgium, but they will also hope their own ultra-talented player comes to the fore for the first time at this World Cup.
"I spoke to him last night about how he can improve and be even more effective, he is eager to learn to make progress with the team," Wilmots said about Eden Hazard, who has failed to sparkle in Brazil, so far. "I don't think he is lacking much.
"If you see what he has been working on for the last 12-18 months, he has been working on defence. He is on the left with Jan and we have improved a lot on this particular side. What exactly we discussed will remain between us but, hopefully, we will see it on the pitch."
Team news: Argentina: Aguero returned to training on Friday and showed no discomfort from the muscle injury which he picked up in the 3-2 win over Nigeria and which also forced him to sit out the last 16 clash against Switzerland, which his team narrowly won thanks to a late extra time goal from Di Maria. If Aguero features from the start, Lavezzi will make way, with Rodrigo Palacio also eyeing a starting berth. Marcos Rojo is suspended, with Jose Basanta set to deputise for the left-back.
Belgium: Defender Thomas Vermaelen returned to training after missing the game against the United States due to injury. Wilmots revealed Toby Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele were carrying minor knocks, but that should not stop them from featuring against Argentina, while Steven Defour also returns from suspension.
Key men: Argentina: With Messi likely to be given extra attention, the likes of Di Maria, Aguero, Lavezzi and Higuain will find more space and will need to take advantage.
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois has been near impenetrable, and the goalkeeper will hope his familiarity with Messi will give him the edge in deciding which way to go when the Argentine loads up to take a shot. "I know very well how to play against him," the confident young goalkeeper told FIFA's official website.
Expected lineups: Argentina: Romero; Zabaleta, Fernandez, Garay, Basanta; Gago, Mascherano, Di Maria; Messi, Higuain, Lavezzi.
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini; Mertens, De Bruyne, Hazard; Lukaku.
Prediction: 1-1 (Argentina win on penalties)