Switzerland vs. Argentina: Complete Preview, Start Time and More

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterFebruary 29, 2012

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 17:  Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after team mate Gonzalo Higuain scores his isde's third goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group B match between Argentina and South Korea at Soccer City Stadium on June 17, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Continents will collide as Switzerland hosts Argentina in a transatlantic clash in Bern on Wednesday. The Schweizer Nati will look to fit in a few kicks before a period of dormancy, on account of their failure to qualify for Euro 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine.

La Albiceleste, on the other hand, are hoping to build momentum and solidify their squad under head coach Alejandro Sabella on the way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Where: Stade de Suisse Wankdorf, Bern, Switzerland

When: Wednesday, February 29th at 2:30 p.m. EST

Watch: Gol TV, GolTV-Canada, TyC Sports Argentina, i-Cable Sports, ESPN DOS

Player to Watch for Switzerland: Xherdan Shaqiri

SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 07:  Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland during the EURO 2012 Qualifying Group G match between Wales and Switzerland at the Liberty Stadium on October 7, 2011 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

The future of Swiss football lies at the feet of Xherdan Shaqiri. The 20-year-old, Kosovo-born striker has been touted as Switzerland's version of Lionel Messi ever since his hat trick against Bulgaria this past September.

The current Basel and future Bayern Munich starlet will have a golden opportunity to justify those lofty comparisons against Ray Hudson's man crush while nudging Switzerland up the world rankings.

Player to Watch for Argentina: Lionel Messi

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 26:  Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina runs with Maurice Edu #7 of the United States during the first half of a friendly match  at New Meadowlands Stadium on March 26, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

It'd be tempting to highlight Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero up front.

But realistically, it wouldn't be right to give the "honor" to anyone other than Lionel Messi. The three-time reigning World Player of the Year has been on particularly fearless form of late, with six goals in his last three appearances with Barcelona.

Despite his tremendous club success, though, Leo has still come under fire for his somewhat subpar play with La Albiceleste (19 goals in 66 caps). A strong performance against a physical Swiss side should help Messi to quell some of those concerns and silence a swath of his critics.

Key Matchup: Switzerland's Back Line vs. Argentina's Attacking Trio

There's no easy way to stop a three-headed monster as menacing as the one that Alejandro Sabella has at his disposal. The best any side can hope to do is slow it down a bit and pray that it doesn't get the run of play for the entirety of the match.

Luckily for the Schweizer Nati, they have a pair of gritty and experienced backs in Stephan Lichsteiner and Philippe Senderos capable of containing the likes of Messi, Higuain and Kun.

To some extent, at least. A fit Johan Djorou would make the Swiss defence a bit less cheese-like, though he hasn't exactly been on point with Arsenal of late.

What They're Saying

It should come as little surprise that the back line is the object of Alejandro Sabella's concern heading into Wednesday's friendly, if for no other reason than the fact that he has a host of world-class attackers at his disposal.

That being said, Sabella has made it clear that he wants to shore up the Seleccion's leaky defence and isn't afraid to do so by trying out new and different players. As he told reporters on Monday:

"We have to construct a strong defence and that is why we called up who we did. There are players who I have picked for the first time, like Campagnaro and Cata Diaz. We have to take into account [Nicolas] Burdisso's injury.

"This game will help the team to gain consistency and the players to get to know each other. Some here have been called for the first time." 

"It is also worthwhile for the competitive element, and to build a group spirit on and off the pitch."

Prediction: Argentina 2, Switzerland 1

Argentina have more than enough talent to overwhelm Switzerland in Bern so long as the Albiceleste are able to mesh their individual brilliance into a cohesive whole. Doing so against the tough Swiss defence will be no easy task, though the Argentines should be able to come away with a positive result anyway.



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