Argentina v Switzerland (17.00 GMT)
Argentina came through their group without too many scares, help wins over Bosnia & Herzegovina, buy more about Iran and then Nigeria gave them a maximum of nine points. As expected Lionel Messi is the star of the Argentinian side with four goals although he has no assists to his name and all four of his goals have come via his left foot, visit this site he is currently ranked as the 4th best striker (Castrol Index).
Switzerland kick off with a win over Ecuador but were then hammered 5-2 by France but they sealed their route into round 2 with a 3-0 success over Honduras. Xherdan Shaqiri is the current top scorer with three goals and is rated the third best midfielder as things stand (Castrol Index).
Argentina should not come into any difficulties for me in this game, Switzerland are not at the same level as the south americans, Argentina are slightly fragile at the back but Switzerland should not be exploiting that and at the same time Switzerland will struggle to contain the attacking power of Argentina.
Asian Handicap – Argentina -1.5 at 2.38 (Bet365)
Haven’t been overly impressed by Switzerland. They got the early goal which meant Honduras had to chase the game against them and left themselves open but prior to that I didn’t think they defended well against either France or Ecuador where they left far too much room between defense and midfield at times. France scored five but could have had double that. That kind of room will only be exploited ruthlessly by Messi who’s started off with real intent to make his mark on this world cup and I can see him bagging another couple of goals here.
So we come to another game where the favs should win but I’m not so sure (again!) Switzerland got hammered by France but managed to sneak a late win over Ecuador and then beat Honduras easily – they have scored 7 goals so have the firepower to trouble the Argentinians
Argentina are obviously a good side but how good are they without Messi if he fails to conjure up more magic? I think this will be yet another tight game with it being level at HT, and possibly level at FT too – extra time could be anyone’s and another penalty shootout could be on the cards here as Switzerland will look at other underdogs and see how they have all held the more fancied teams well
I predicted ARG to win the final pre-tourney and will stick with that but now I can see any of the teams managing it if they get some luck – I will tip Argentina to sneak through this match and maybe improve in the last 8
I would go with HT draw (2.35), FT draw (4.55) and maybe another ‘penalty shootout’ method of victory at 8/1 (bet365) as that looks generously priced and you don’t have to worry who wins it!
Belgium v USA (21.00 GMT)
Another side to come through the group stages with maximum points were the Belgians with victories over Algeria, Russia and South Korea in a group where they only conceded a single goal, they scored four goals and all of those came after an hour of playing, three of their four goals came in the last 15 minutes of their matches.
The USA won their opening match against Ghana and then picked up a point against Portugal which ended up enough to see them through after a defeat in the final game to Germany with Clint Dempsey scoring 2 of their 5 goals. The two sides met last year in a friendly and the Belgians came out on top in a 4-2 win.
I don’t think this will be the most entertaining match ever, the Belgians are very solid at the back but are not a side who will go out and score plenty whilst the USA don’t tend to be involved in high scoring matches but they are not there to make up the numbers and will give it a right go in this match but surely the Belgians will be too solid at the back and contain the USA’s attacking power, low scoring and not the greatest of matches is my prediction!
Under 1.5 Goals at 3.00 (William Hill)
United States lack that little bit of flair to ultimately progress much further than this but Belgium haven’t looked like the dark horses everyone though they would be. This will be a close game and I could see a draw here. If it went to penalties I’d fancy the more experienced side of the USA.
We finish the last 16 with yet another match that could be a draw and could go to ET! USA aren’t a bad side and are hard to beat – they are well managed (organised) with Klinsmann at the helm and they will prove tricky opponents for a Belgium side who were well fancied by many but haven’t quite found their rhythm
Belgium may suddenly step up a gear and rattle a few in as they have some really good players – but the likely result here is 1-0or 1-1 so I will go with Under 2.5 goals (1.68 best) and a draw at HT (evens) as the best bets