One thing that has been uncertain over the Argentina team is their defence although they haven’t conceded many goals, the defence has looked shaky. A German side which will likely to take advantage of, when they meet in Cape Town for a semi final place.
Mesut Ozil and Miroslav Klose will been the main threats the defence, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira being the architects. One man who will know more about the Germans than most Argentine nationals, will be Martin Demichelis. The defender is likely to be a starter at the heart of the back, after appearing in all 2010 World Cup games. The player has spent the majority of his career plying his trade for Bayern Munich, and would have came up against or played with most of the Die Mannschaft squad.
The defender spoke about the team’s recent form before game, something which shouldnt be a cause for concern for the La Albiceleste fans. “The squad’s been fantastic, with four wins from four games. How could we not be happy with that?” However the defender still believes the team needs to be improved. “So far we’ve dominated our games and only conceded two goals, but we’re hoping to tighten up even more at the back to make it harder for our opponents to score. On a personal note, it [making a mistake for Lee Chung-Yong’s goal in the 4-1 win over Korea Republic] was hard for me to swallow. We went on to win our second game and I was the only one who couldn’t savour it. I’m very self-critical and when I make mistakes it really gets to me. Fortunately, we won and I was able to make up for that error and boost my confidence with a goal against Greece.”
With the teams having met four years ago in 2006 World cup, Argentina will be looking for revenge after a penalty shootout loss ended in a mass brawl at the final whistle. An ugly game that year and although the game was dominated by the controversy, there was no repeat in a friendly match three months ago. Argentina was 1-0 winners in that game, something that the South Americans can take some comfort going into the game.
Lionel Messi was on the bench for the 2006 game and the World’s best player gave his nation a scare on Thursday, when he was unable to train. The Barcelona forward was said to be unwell with a cold and trained alone in the gym, whilst his team mates gave the media a show in training. The team said it was ‘just precautionary’ and his participation on Saturday ‘was not in doubt.’ The coach is likely to give the star a free role in the game, allowing him to create space for other players as well as producing a spectacular performance. “I want to give him freedom to play his game,” he said. “He has no defined position. These players, like Messi, if you label them or shackle them, you’ll detract from their freshness and initiative.”
With the best player in the world on your team, Maradona is confident going into the game. They are stronger (than Round of 16 opponent Mexico), but we will field the right players to beat them,” he told Fox Sports Argentina.
The coach also singled out Carlos Tevez as another dangerman, at the pre match press conference, praising his impressive form and excellent second goal against Mexico. “I’ve known him for a long time and he’s phenomenal,” said Maradona. “He’s playing a great World Cup and we’re very proud of him. Wherever he plays, he always excels. He’s always the same.”
With Messi likely to be fit, Argentina will have no new injury concerns ahead of the quarter final. Walter Samuel could return after his leg injury but it’s very unlikely, with Nicola Burdisso expected to keep his place alongside Demichelis. Gabriel Heinze, Mauro Bolatti and Javier Mascherano are all likely to be kept an eye on aswell, after they are a yellow card away from missing the semi final place if they were to progress.
The team will be now looking to stamp their authority on the tournament, after near rivals Brazil were knocked out yesterday by Netherlands. There are likely to be gain favourites status alongside Spain in lifting the trophy, but first they must get past the Germans.