World Cup 2014: Argentina v Belgium

ARG 1 – 0 BEL: A drab quarter final at the Estádio Nacional de Brasilia between two sides who have not quite reached the heights of the expectations put upon them. Argentina, over-reliant on Lionel Messi for much of this tournament, have laboured through the tournament despite winning all four of their games. A win by one goal in each match and far from convincing performances have left many doubting the ability of the squad to go all the way. Whilst Belgium’s supposed “golden era” of players have so far failed to gel into a cohesive unit to seriously worry the world’s best. The opening to the game was both energetic and frantic, chances at both end as the two teams looked to gain the upper hand. And it was the Argentines who managed to produce a moment of quality to put them ahead. Di Maria and Messi combined well on the right and the ball sat up nicely for Gonzalo Higuain to smash a thunderous volley past Courtois in the Belgian goal. It was an opportune strike from the ex-Real Madrid forward who had gone goalless in his last six internationals. The rest of the game failed to live up to the early pace and both teams could only register four shots on target in the second half. Messi was his usual troublesome self and Argentina closed out the game without any real alarm. Belgium were disappointing up top – Hazard anonymous, Origi all bark but no bite, and Mirallas lacked vision with his final ball. All three were replaced in the second period as Wilmots tried to spark some creativity into his side. But it was not to be and the Belgians will go home disappointed that they have not shown more of their obvious quality on the biggest stage of all. Argentina look to today’s other quarter final to see who their opponents will be in their first World Cup semi final since Italia 90. You have to think that they need to find an extra gear if they are going to get past the talented Dutch or the industrious Costa Ricans. But when you have Messi you have gold in your hands, and just maybe they will have more gold in their hands come the end of the tournament.

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