Argentina vs. Switzerland: Tactical Preview of World Cup Round of 16 Match

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJuly 1, 2014

VESPASIANO, BRAZIL - JUNE 28:  Lionel Messi of Argentina during a training session at Cidade do Galo on June 28, 2014 in Vespasiano, Brazil.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The FIFA World Cup 2014 knockout stages have arrived, with 16 teams exiting at the group stage and the rest left to fight it out for the ultimate prize.

Here we analyse Argentina vs. Switzerland: A game between two teams yet to hit top-gear, but if either does find its feet, this promises to be an absolute cracker.


Alejandro Sabella's Argentina are in the round of 16 courtesy of Lionel Messi's brilliance and nothing else.


Bar a Marcos Rojo kneed effort and an own goal from Bosnia-Herzegovina left-back Sead Kolasinac, no other name has adorned the Albiceleste scoresheet in this World Cup so far.

It's time for the rest of the players to step up while Messi keeps his level, and once they find their rhythm they'll be near-impossible to stop.

Sabella is happy with his team so far but is toying with alternatives; the formation, the personnel and the style are all under consideration. One change is assured: Someone will need to replace Sergio Aguero after he injured his thigh. Ezequiel Lavezzi is the favourite.

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Switzerland will be without Steve Von Bergen for the rest of their tournament, meaning Fabian Schaer will likely continue at centre-back alongside Johan Djourou.


That's one of several positive adjustments Ottmar Hitzfeld can make if he hopes to see his team progress to the next round, as up until now they simply haven't impressed.

Expect Xherdan Shaqiri to start as a No. 10, offering the team drive and thrust from a central position. Valentin Stocker could come in for the now-ineffectual Granit Xhaka, stuck out on the right as a consequence of Shaqiri's move.

Addressing the elephant in the room, Hitzfeld redefined bullish in the pre-match press conference on Monday:

"How to stop Messi? We will show you tomorrow how we do it," the Swiss coach said, per the Associated Press (h/t The Washington Post). "I think any defense will face problems when facing Messi and problems are there to be solved."

2 Tactical Clashes

1. Pressing!

The Swiss circumvented the group games without pressing but now is the time to turn it on.

Ottmar Hitzfeld will not have wanted to tire his team out during the group stages and that's fair enough, but now they've qualified and this game could be their last, they have to give it their all off the ball.

They're easy to pick apart when they sit off and allow opponents possession, but the intense pressure they generated using their forward line during qualifying saw them concede very few and source goals from high turnovers.

It's a defence mechanism and a great way to get Shaqiri on the ball nice and early.

Messi laid three chances on a plate for his colleagues vs. Nigeria.
Messi laid three chances on a plate for his colleagues vs. Nigeria.Squawka.com

2. Keep Messi Ticking

Messi hasn't just been a magnificent goal source for Argentina, he's been a chief creator, too.

His 3.3 key passes and 5.7 dribbles per game, per WhoScored.com, are a team-high by a distance, and if his colleagues were on the same goalscoring page as him, the Albiceleste would be flying.

Messi needs to keep doing what he's doing and there's a strong chance Gokhan Inler won't be able to slow him down. From there, Argentina can only hope Gonzalo Higuain finally finds the net.

 Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.


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