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Soccer World Cup

2014 World Cup: Xherdan Shaqiri is Crucial for Swiss Upset of Argentina

Getty Images

Getty Images

Switzerland may be ranked in the top ten of the FIFA World Rankings, but they have not convinced me of rightfully owning that rank. In the group stage, Switzerland beat Ecuador and Honduras, two teams that are not exactly top-class when compared to some of the heavy-hitters of the tournament. Switzerland took a loss against an under-ranked France team by a brutal margin of three goals.

However, Switzerland have one glimmering light on their team that has caught fire as of late. Xherdan Shaqiri, although he scored all three of his goals against a Honduras team, picked a good time to start scoring goals. I have said this before, but Shaqiri is easily the most talented player on the Switzerland team. Although it’s a tragedy he does not see any time with Bayern Munich, Shaqiri has started every game and proves to be the most crucial player on the pitch even without being assigned the No. 10 jersey. Look for Argentina to tailor their game plan around Shaqiri to try and contain him the entire game.

Argentina are looking to make it four straight wins in the 2014 World Cup, and that’s due in part to two things – Lionel Messi and strong defense. Coming into the World Cup, I did not believe Argentina had enough defense to make a deep run into the World Cup, but I made the claim that the defense would need to hold their own to give Messi the opportunity to play a more offensive role, which has been displayed in the group stage. Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo and Federico Fernandez have been stellar in the back and have been playing as if a statement were to be made. In past years, defense was Argentina’s weakness, but in this World Cup, it appears to be a strength as they have only allowed three goals in three games which is comforting knowing one of the best forwards is on a hot streak and is scoring goals.

Argentina and Switzerland will be close, but I believe Argentina will move on to the quarterfinals.

Collin Ruby is a Soccer Writer for RantSports.com, Follow him on Twitter @Collin_Ruby