Anytime you go up against Lionel Messi, even by himself, you’ve got your hands full. When “the flea” is teamed up with Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria to form a fantastic quartet, and your hands are overflowing with problems.
That being said, Belgium have what it takes to defeat Argentina and press on to the semifinals.
The speed and fluidity of the Belgians’ midfield, when they start meshing, is near unstoppable. With Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens swarming up and down the wings, Kevin Mirallas and Kevin de Bruyne roaming in central, and the duo afros of Alex Witsel and Marouane Fellaini in a defensive position, the Belgians have their best players at the most crucial part of the field — right in the middle.
The Argentinians are very attack-oriented, with their star-studded lineup being very heavily weighted towards the opponents’ goal box. Their defenders are known mostly for their attacking abilities as well. Their attack cannot be denied, but their goal-preventing force can definitely be questioned.
The Belgians will be meeting the high-flying Argentine attack with the stout defensive prowess of Vincent Kompany and a goalie in Thibaut Courtois, who is quickly becoming one of the premier goalies in the world.
That’s not to say that the Belgians will completely shut down the Argentine attack. That’s nearly impossible for anyone to do, but they can slow them down long enough for their midfield masterminds to take charge, control the ball, and pelt a shaky goal defense.
And then there’s the wildcard of Romelu Lukaku, who could do anything. We know the talent is there, it’s just a matter of which Lukaku shows up. If he uses the passion he derived from being brought on late against the USMNT, the Argentine defense is in even more trouble. Even if he doesn’t though, all of the Belgian midfielders have the ability to score and create for themselves.
If the Belgian defense can take the brunt of a potent Argentine attack, the counterattack capabilities orchestrated through a very creative midfield core will be enough to break through a questionable defense and push an inspired Belgium side through to the semifinals.