This quarter final was met with a lot of anticipation from both sides and today it would all be about results. Even if Messi would win it for them and the rest would play bad, it wouldn’t matter. Even if 2 late substitutes won the game through illegitimate goals, it wouldn’t matter.
The first have started with Belgium looking brighter and controlling possession. The atmosphere was scintillating in Brasilia, and there were plenty of stripes in the crowd. With Argentina being roared on by numerous fans, it was they who struck first blood. It was Gonzalo Higuain who scored and ended his drought of 528 minutes. A Messi-Di Maria exchange ricocheted of Jan Vertonghen’s leg and was set up perfectly for the Napoli striker who put his foot through it and buried the ball in the far corner. Courtois was helpless and could only stare in disbelief. The rest of the game was something similar to a Spain vs Netherlands barring the goals. Belgium dictated play, but looked far from threatening and when Argentina got the ball, they had the better chances. Origi started surprisingly and did nothing to justify his position as was constantly found offside. Everytime Argentina probed, it was Kompany who answered the call, be it a clearing header or blocking a Di Maria shot. A big blow came Argentina’s way as Di Maria fell to the clutches of injury, and was replaced by Enzo Perez.
From Belgium’s point of view, Eden Hazard was a disappointment and put in another anonymous shift. Fellaini was sloppy, showcasing some of his Manchester United form. Moreover, Axel Witsel was not able to cope with Lionel Messi, the latter being untouchable after he completed all 13 of his attempted passes. The game was really boring and there was nothing much happening, apart from a Messi free kick which went miles over and Mirallas’ headed attempt from 12 yards out which was agonizingly close to goal. Argentina’s best player before the half came to a close was Lionel Messi and Belgium’s was Vincent Kompany.
Marc Wilmots would be looking to turn things around in the second half, and that was not evident as Belgium looked blank while attacking. He threw on Lukaku and Dries Mertens to boost his teams chances though.The first chance came to Higuain again, as he made a powerful run covering nearly 60 yards, made a complete fool of Kompany, only for his shot to run out of play after hitting the bar. Belgium were almost level when De Bruyne’s cross was almost turned in by 50 Shades of Garay. Sergio Romero was alert and reacted quickly. After that Belgium never really looked like scoring and were disappointing. Eden Hazard was horrible in this game and was brought off for Nacer Chadli. Dries Mertens was not really good after coming on, losing possession easily and his free kick was laughable. Lavezzi who had a relatively quiet game was brought off for Rodrigo “Hairstyle Lord” Palacio, who looked to bring some stability to the game. The game ended with Courtois denying Messi in a 1v1 situation and continuing his excellent record of not conceding to Lionel Messi.
It was Argentina 1 – 0 Belgium and for the fifth time this World Cup Argentina won by a one goal margin. Belgium simply lacked the finesse and quality to beat Alex Sabella’s men and they seemed like schoolboys playing versus grown men. Argentina booked their place in the last 4 and awaited Costa Rica or Netherlands. It was the first time since 1990 that Argentina have made it so far and they should be proud of what they have achieved. Belgium, who made it so far after ages, bowed out, but could be proud of their display overall. Since Belgium do crash out of the cup, we can be rest assured of seeing Fellaini playing in his afro next season. This was the first time Belgium lost while Thibaut Courtois played in 22 games.The game was really cagey and not at all fun to watch. The game saw 3 shots on target, the lowest tally in a World Cup knockout game since the 1990 World Cup. This is also the first time Argentina and Brazil have reached the semi finals of the same World Cup. Whoever wins the last quarter final, will await a tactical battle versus this very determined Argentina.
FIFA/Our Man Of The Match: Gonzalo Higuain
Scored a superb goal which was the eventual winner and broke his Argentine goal drought. Was unlucky not to score a second goal and was a constant menace to Kompany and van Buyten.The former Madrid man looked really assured on the ball and his goal has very seriously boosted his confidence. He will look to repeat such performances in the coming games.
Flop Of The Match: Eden Hazard
Why did Marc Wilmots not start with Eden Hazard for such a crucial encounter? That was the question that came to our minds, as the Chelsea man put in another disappointing display at the World Cup. He was offensively outmatched and anonymous. Rightly subbed of for Nacer Chadli in the second period.