Argentina versus Mexico in the last 16 of the World Cup, deja vu anyone? Just four years and three days ago, these nations squared off in Leipzig Germany at exactly the same stage of the competition. Argentina came out victorious on that occasion and will be hoping for a repeat performance this year.
As already mentioned, La Albiceleste and El Tri locked horns at this stage of the competition four years ago and it proved to be one of the games of the tournament. Thoroughly impressive in the group stages, Argentina were expected to progress with relative ease. However someone obviously failed to inform the Mexicans, as Barcelona’s Rafael Marquez gave EL Tri the lead after just five minutes. Unfazed, it took Argentina just five minutes to find an equaliser whenMexican striker Jared Borgetti headed into his own net.
Despite numerous opportunities for both sides, the score remained level at the end of 90 minutes. It appeared that something special was needed to break the deadlock, and so it proved as Maxi Rodriguez struck one of the finest goals in World Cup history. Superbly controlling a cross on his chest, the then Atletico Madrid winger unleashed a ferocious left footed volley into the top corner, sending La Albiceleste into the quarter finals with a 2-1 victory.
There is a rich history of clashes between the two sides, with Argentina the dominant force having recorded 11 wins, 11 draws and just four defeats. The most recent, a June 2008 friendly, resulted in a 4-1 victory for La Albiceleste, with goals from Burdisso, Messi, Rodriguez and Augero.
Most of the stars rested against Greece such as Mascherano, Heinze, Higuain and Tevez are likely to return, as is the fit again Walter Samuel probably in place on Nicolas Burdisso. However, some reports suggest that Jonas Gutierrez will be replaced at right back by Nicolas Otamendi. If true the Newcastle winger will either start on the bench or replace Angel Di Maria on the left flank.
Hat trick hero Higuain should return
Mexico emerged from group A in second place, finishing ahead of South Africa and France but behind Uruguay. El Tri certainly showed some signs that they could trouble La Albiceleste, especially in their comprehensive 2-0 victory over the French. Playing a possession based passing game which is not dissimilar to Argentina’s own, the Mexicans are a dangerous side who have the potential to spring an upset.
Giovanni is part Brazilian
Captain Rafael Marquez is the most experienced player in the squad and has been impressive thus far. Furthermore, as a teammate of Lionel Messi at Barcelona, he may be more informed than most on how to stop the little magician. PSV Eindhoven’s Carlos Salcido has impressed at left back in both an attacking and defensive capacity and will need to be carefully watched. Finally, nippy winger Giovanni Dos Santos has started to display the form which saw him marked as a wonder kid when at Barcelona. What’s more, as the son of former Brazilian professional Zizinho, it is likely he would love nothing more then to send Argentina crashing out of the competition.
As with all their fixtures to date, Argentina are odds on favourites at 1/2, meanwhile Mexico are outsiders at 6/1. More info at http://www.oddschecker.com/football/internationals/world-cup/argentina-v-mexico/win-market.
Mexico are a dangerous team and with both sides playing open attacking football it should be an entertaining affair. However I can’t help but feel that Argentina are simply a superior version of the Mexicans and possess more players capable of making the difference. Argentina to win 3-1.