Argentina advanced into the semifinals for the first time since 1990 after defeating Belgium 1-0 thanks to an early goal from Gonzalo Higuain. Their defense held very firm and stayed disciplined against a youthful side that was forced to cross the ball into the area way too much. Now, they have a date with either Costa Rica or the Netherlands in the semis next week.
Lionel Messi was once again an instrumental part, as he had to take over the responsibility of holding the ball up and taking on multiple guys alone after Angel di Maria went off injured before halftime. He finally also decided to do some dirty work on the defensive end, which really showed how much he wants to hoist the cup in a week’s time. He has been key to their run and helped quite a bit today by being a team player.
Belgium created some chances, but they were finally shut down because they were disallowed to create multiple attacks on a consistent basis. They lived in the final third against the US Men’s National Team because they were told to sit back. Today, they were decently strong defensively, but a bit of bad luck and shock forced them to allow an early goal. Now, they need to regroup and get ready for EURO 2016 qualifying, as they are already one of the favorites to win in France.
Argentina finally played great defense and did not have to rely on missed chances from their opponents, as the addition of Michel Demichelis into a starting center back spot added composure, intelligence and most of all experience, which made life extremely difficult for the Belgians. He is not as fast or as strong as he once was, but he does enough to get the job done.
Argentina will now await a meeting against the Netherlands or Costa Rica, who will face off later on today. Since the game is on South American soil, Argentina should be considered early favorites for that one. With the same defense and attacking plan, they can defeat either side.