Argentina vs Switzerland: Form Guide, Live Stream, Prediction for 2014 World Cup

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Argentina vs Switzerland: Form Guide, Live Stream, Prediction for 2014 World Cup
Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

Date: Tuesday, July 1

Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET

Venue: Sao Paulo

TV info and live stream: The match will be broadcast on ESPN (for U.S. viewers) and BBC 1 (for UK viewers), with mobile coverage available via WatchESPN and the BBC iPlayer app.

 

Form Guide

It speaks volumes for the depth of talent Argentina possess that they topped their group with nine points without ever really showing the cavalier attacking brand of football that was expected of them. 

It has been one man who has dragged his colleagues through the group stage. That one man, of course, being Lionel Messi. 

The magician from Rosario bagged four goals in the group stage, the finest of which saw him single-handedly secure all three points against a stubborn Iranian side with a spell-bindingly brilliant curled effort in the final minute. If a team is going to depend on one man, it's Messi whose shoulders you'd want to be carried on. 

Gary Lineker certainly believes Messi has enjoyed a magnificent tournament, as per this MessiStats tweet. 

But while Argentina possess an abundance of attacking flair, they lack the defensive solidity that South American counterparts Brazil possess. That fragility was exposed by Nigeria, who scored twice in a 3-2 defeat. While their forwards dug them out of a hole that time, such tactics will not work when they come to face the world's elite in the coming rounds. 

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Ottmar Hitzfeld's Swiss side have enjoyed a stop-start campaign in Brazil. A humbling 5-2 demolition by the resurgent French sat between impressive 2-1 and 3-0 victories over Ecuador and Honduras respectively.

The defeat of Ecuador was particularly impressive given that it was their first victory over a South American team at a World Cup in six attempts, as reported by BBC Sport.

A 3-0 victory over Honduras was similarly impressive, with Xherdan Shaqiri justifying the pre-tournament hype as the Bayern Munich man recorded a memorable hat-trick in a display characterised by Swiss attacking verve. 

The wily Hitzfeld placed all the pressure at Argentina'a door following the rout, as reported by the BBC

Not only did we play a strong team but we played against the weather.

The players showed the right attitude and will and we surpassed ourselves. Passion comes from suffering and we really suffered.

Whenever you reach the second round it is a great motivation and we are highly motivated. We are going to write history.

We do have a chance, even against Argentina. It is going to be a match where we have nothing to lose.

But the 5-2 defeat by a marvellous France side best indicates the Swiss' chances against Alejandro Sabella's men. In truth, the scoreline did not reflect the balance of play in a match that the French dominated, going up 5-0 before Granit Xhaka and Blerim Dzemaili grabbed consolation efforts. 

The soft underbelly was ruthlessly exposed as the Swiss struggled to contain the attacking flair of France, especially following the loss of Steve von Bergen to injury. That underbelly will once again face a stern examination when they face Messi, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Angel Di Maria and Co.

Felipe Dana/Associated Press

Play possession football against the Argentinians, and they'll catch you on the counter-attack through the world's foremost proponents of the art—Di Maria and Messi. Invite them into your half, and Messi will likely produce that moment of magic that he has done in all three of Argentina's ties so far. 

France so ruthlessly identified Switzerland's defensive frailties when facing top-class opposition—never mind their FIFA world ranking of sixth—that it is hard to see them contain a front line that, even without the injured Sergio Aguero, is the best in Brazil.

We fancy the Argentinians to canter to a win here, but Hitzfeld is an astute tactician and will give Sabella's men a worry or two. 

Prediction: Argentina 3-1 Switzerland

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