The FIFA World Cup Kickaround, Halftime, and Postgame Thread For 7/1/14: Argentina-Switzerland (Halftime Version)
Halftime: Switzerland 0, Argentina 0
It was a good tactical first half from Hitzfeld, who got the two best moments in the first half. Romero denying Xhaka after Shaqiri's great play, while Drmic (created by fine counter play from Schar and Shaqiri) tamely finished a great chance that went right into Romero's hands.
Honestly, I can't see neither side making changes as they are playing the formations and players they need thus far. However, for Argentina, they will need Zabaleta to step up his offensive quality, as well as for Higuain to drop in between Behrami/Inler and Schar/Djourou to hold up the ball and allow Messi, Lavezzi, and even Di Maria to crash in. They also will need a bit more from Gago in the final third to be that deep lying playmaker to Messi/Di Maria's directness.
A captivating second half is in store.
Photos from Getty Images and FIFA.com
Fascinating match ups in this one, as Argentina maybe are relieved that they don’t have to go up against France but will be dealing with a talented Swiss side capable of hurting them more than even Nigeria.
Can Shaqiri and Mehmedi give massive problems to Zabaleta and Rojo? That Rojo-Shaqiri matchup will be vital with Mascherano needing to help out whenever the Bayern Munich man comes inside.
But Zabaleta desires to go forward and make Mehmedi, a natural forward, look to defend as much as possible. Valentin Stocker just did not impress for Ottmar Hitzfeld, so one-half of the former FC Zurich prodigies (Josip Drmic the other) attempts to be a secure man on the Swiss left. Also, how will Zabaleta deal with Drmic when he is stretched outside and tries to find Shaqiri and even Xhaka crashing the box? It’s important for Fernandez and even Garay to not be led out and let their fullbacks do that responsibility.
Litchsteiner will try and push Di Maria on the back foot whenever he has the chance to, while both Gago and Behrami have to step up their play today. The Boca Juniors man has been so-so while Behrami, outside of the legendary late scramble for Sefervoic’s winner against Ecuador, was a disaster in his first two matches. Behrami likely will be the main man assigned on Messi as Rodriguez will look to help Mehmedi if Zabaleta does his usual aggressive forward play.
Litchsteiner has not been at his best this tournament and will need to be against the energy of the Real madrid winger on both ends. The Juventus right back has to consistently add in the Swiss attack and make Rojo’s day a major struggle.
Finally, will Gonzalo Higuain get off the snide today. He maybe dealing with a future star in Fabian Schar watching him for most of the day, so Higuain will look to go at Johann Djourou off his shoulder whenever possible. Both he and Lavezzi have got to cause confusion between Litchsteiner, Djourou, and 22-year-old Schar.
(Will be back for the post game thoughts)