Real deal Messi can upstage Swiss pretender Shaqiri.
Argentina are a joy to watch going forward and it’s real pleasure to see Lionel Messi finally reproduce his club form in the blue and white stripes.
The first player ever to claim three consecutive man-of-the-match performances in a World Cup finals; one gets the sense he’s only getting warmed up.
The Barcelona forward could yet take his team all the way to the final – he has already scored four goals and been his team’s match-winner in two of their three games so far – but there are valid concerns that, Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta apart, they will be vulnerable to a team with a strong defence and a potent attack.
Messi is under immense pressure to perform as those around him haven’t impressed so far; Sergio Aguero clearly isn’t match-fit, Gonzalo Higuain couldn’t hit the proverbial barn door at present and Angel Di Maria runs around a lot without actually achieving anything.
There is a huge gap between the defence and midfield but the draw has been kind to Argentina as Switzerland may not have the overall firepower to exploit their weaknesses and, as France have already proved in the tournament, they do concede goals.
It will be interesting to see how Bayern Munich’s Xherdan Shaqiri, known as the Alpine Messi, compares against the real thing after he scored a hat-trick in his team’s vital win over Honduras but Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team look one of the weakest left in the competition and should pose little threat to Argentina’s progress.
It’ll be an enthralling match-up between Messi and ‘Alpine Messi’ in what promises to be an scintillating Round of 16 encounter.
Both Messi and Shaqiri were on the score-sheet when the teams met in a friendly back in 2012 but it was the former who came out best, netting a hat-trick, and his country also won their only previous meeting in a World Cup in 1966.
Anything but an Argentina victory in 90 minutes (1/2) would be a huge shock but both teams to score could be a decent bet at 5/6.
The match kicks off at 5pm UK time on Tuesday July 1st at the Arena Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo.