Led by superstar forward, Lionel Messi, Argentina went undefeated in its trio of Group F matches (6 goals, 3 allowed) thanks to four goals from arguably the world’s best player.
It should be noted however, that Argentina was playing against a trio of opponents in Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran, that aren’t exactly soccer powerhouses.
Messi scored the match-deciding goals in each of Argentina’s first two World Cup matches but fellow front liners, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero have looked mostly pedestrian since the start of the tournament if you ask me.
"We’ll prepare ourselves to face Messi, as well as their other players, but of course he has the quality to decide games," said Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio. "It will be relatively hard to shut him out, but he’s not the only dangerous player in a very good team. Argentina don’t revolve just around Messi even though he’s their superstar.
Aguero was injured against Nigeria and it has been reported that he will now miss this match all together, though head coach Alejandro Sabella has subbed Ezequiel Lavezzi in for Aguero in each of the last two matches.
"It is a muscle injury," Argentine press officer Andres Ventura said.
"To interpret that as meaning he will play no further part in the World Cup is taking things too far."
Argentina has allowed three goals in three matches and will need to get some improved play from defensive play from midfielders, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago and Angel Di Maria.
Messi may get the global attention that is reserved for just a handful of other athletes on the planet but Switzerland forward Xherdan Shaqiri has pulled off a feat this World Cup that Messi hasn’t by scoring a hat trick against Honduras.
Switzerland beat Ecuador 2-1 in its World Cup opener before getting routed by France 5-2 in its second Group E match. The Swiss men bounced back to overpower Honduras 3-0 in its group finale and will need another outstanding effort from Shaqiri if they are to have a chance to pull off the upset in this match. Switzerland will almost assuredly play a more defensive style in this match against the offensive-minded Argentineans than they did against an overwhelmed Honduras men’s team.
The Swiss men will also need extraordinary efforts from fullbacks, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ricardo Rodriguez, as both are fine attackers and can offer excellent offensive support when necessary. Switzerland will be without arguably its best defender, Steve von Bergen after seeing their linchpin go down in their last match.
Switzerland has gotten off a whopping 53 total shots this World Cup with 33 of those being on target and 11 being blocked. The Swiss men are under the tournament average of 49.7 crosses with just 40 such passes while completing only nine of them, still under the World Cup average of 11.8 cross completions.
Argentina averages 16 shot attempts per match and Switzerland, 17 per contest. Both clubs have connected on 60 percent of their attempts with Shaqiri taking 17 shots and Messi just 13. Switzerland’s hard-nosed defense has committed a whopping 39 fouls to just 24 from Messi and company. Both clubs have had one yellow card apiece.
Both sides can win this game. Argentina tends to sit back and simply rely on their talent to take advantage of a mistake by their opposition. This is mainly Lionel Messi’s job. The Swiss however do not make many mistakes. Argentina must play well as a team, and if not, they will lose this game.