The Quarter finals conclude on Saturday with Argentina taking on Belgium and the Netherlands facing Costa Rica. Both games are previewed here
Argentina v Belgium 5pm Brasilia
Argentina and Belgium both had to play extra-time in order to reach the World Cup quarterfinals. The South Americans needed 118 minutes to finally score against Switzerland, while Belgium eventually beat the U.S.A having dominated the game.
Switzerland adopted the strategy all of Argentina’s World Cup opponents have used so far – to sit back and defend in numbers – in their round of 16 match. It worked to an extent, as they sent the match to extra time. Lionel Messi, who scored the deciding goal in their first two matches, once again made the difference as his pass set up the winning goal.
Through four matches, much of Argentina’s attack has devolved into relying on Messi for moments of magic. A major factor in this has has been the injury to Aguero and the absence of any form from Higuain, Di Maria and co.
If Argentina are winning almost solely because of one player, Belgium are succeeding thanks to contributions from all across their team. The six goals Belgium have scored so far in the tournament have come from six different players.
Wilmots has been adept to maximise Belgium’s biggest strength: depth. Four of Belgium’s goals have now been scored by substitutes off Belgium’s bench. After witnessing how other teams like Switzerland have subdued Argentina’s attack all tournament, Wilmots now has a good blueprint to follow in setting up his excellent defense, which has conceded just twice in four matches.
Belgium should also have the personnel to execute a very effective counterattacking setup with Hazard and their array of wingers breaking forward. Argentina’s defense has looked vulnerable against counter-attacks. The likes of Hazard, Lukaku and Dries Mertens all have the pace and quality to make Argentina pay at the back. But if their offense can’t find a way through, their defence is quite capable of also keeping Argentina out for 90 minutes and beyond.
Given this i like the possiblity of extra-time here 12/5 with totesport, and would just expect Argentina to go through in what will be a fascinating game
Netherlands v Costa Rica 9pm Salvador
On paper this looks the most one-sided quarter final with Netherlands 1/2 favourites on the outright to progress to the last four. They beat a tough Mexican side last round whilst Costa Rica needed penalties to get past the resolute Greeks. Whilst Costa Rica have defied expectations all tournament, it would be surprising if this was not a step too far for the CONCACAF team
The Netherlands look to have more game-winning quality especially with Robben and Van Perise and are likely to be the fresher team. The Costa Ricans had to play for almost an hour with 10 men, and just had the legs to win on penalties. Ruiz and Joel Campbell are threats, but Campbell was marked out of the game against the Greeks. Also in the favour of the Dtch is their tactical flexibility. Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal used the second-half break against Mexico to make a tactical change, switching from a 5-3-2 system to a more traditional Dutch 4-4-3, bringing Huntelaar in to replace the tiring Robin van Persie and this paid dividends with two late goals.
Putting all this together we need to find some value on the Dutch side of the game and the 13/10 offered by BetVictor on the Netherlands to win to nil appeals as an alternative to 1/2 outright.