Argentina will face their toughest challenge of the World Cup so far when they face a young, quick, and talented Belgian team in Brasilia on Saturday.

The quarterfinal match will be the third meeting for the two teams in the World Cup with each side having won once.

Lionel Messi is on a mission this World Cup. He seems focused, driven, and has carried his teammates on his back through their first four games of the tournament. Before this tournament, Messi had struggled under the bright lights of World Cup play. Critics constantly compared him to famed Argentine striker, Diego Maradona and believed that the man known as “The Flea” would never be able to get out of Maradona’s shadow.

Messi has responded this tournament producing nearly all the offense for Argentina so far including the assist on the winning goal against Switzerland in the round of 16. He will need to be at his very best again as he faces a staunch task in trying to get past the Belgian defense who has been one of the best in the tournament.

Belgium will rely on Captain Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen to contain Messi on Saturday. Offensively, young talented stars, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku will need to put constant pressure on Argentina’s defense which has looked great at times and downright awful at others.

Argentina has a much stronger midfield than Belgium and has averaged over 64 percent of possession in the World Cup so far, the highest ratio out of all 32 teams in the tournament. Belgium has been no slouch on possession themselves, but they will need to bring that number down and play well in the middle to beat Argentina.

If you like offense and beautiful fluid football you must watch this game. As you saw against the United States, it doesn’t always mean the game will be high scoring, but these two teams lead the World Cup with shots on goal with 83 and 80 respectively. Belgium leads the entire tournament with 32 shots on target. The Red Devils will need to keep up that attack and continue their accuracy to break through the Argentine defense.

The outcome of the game will inevitably revolve around Lionel Messi. For Argentina, can his teammates give him help? If they do, and play to their potential, Argentina will win. If they play like they did against Iran or Switzerland where it seems like Messi at times is playing 11 on 1, then they can lose. On the flip side, if Belgium can keep Messi contained on defense and their young outstanding goalie, Thibaut Courtois can keep Messi out of the net, Belgium can win. Belgium is undefeated in competitive play with Courtois between the pipes.

Before the tournament began, I predicted an Argentina vs. Germany final where Lionel Messi wins the golden boot, hoists the cup and makes all of Argentina say “Diego Maradona who?” As of now, that prediction is still alive and with the latest injury to Neymar, half of the equation is looking strong. After four games of watching Argentina however, they seem to be too reliant on Messi and nobody else steps up to help him. After watching the NBA Finals last month, I have seen firsthand how a team concept can defeat a single individual. Because of that, I believe Belgium can win. Nevertheless, if just for consistency’s sake, I will side with my original prediction.

My Prediction: Argentina holds on to beat Belgium 1-0.

Betting odds courtesy of

Argentina:   Pick Em’ (-190)   //   +110 Moneyline
Belgium:  Pick Em’ (+160)    //   +275 Moneyline
Draw +230