World Cup Round of 16 preview: Argentina v Switzerland

Argentina will play Switzerland at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, July 2, from 2am (AEST).

Head to head

Played 6: Argentina 4 wins, Switzerland 0 wins, 2 draws.

The game

Argentina didn't make it easy for themselves, but thanks to some fantastic performances from Lionel Messi in the group stage, they qualified for the last 16 with maximum points.

The Swiss came in behind France in Group E, thanks to a hat-trick from Xherdan Shaqiri against Honduras, and will have a difficult job of holding off the Argentines, who will welcome Ezequiel Lavezzi into the side due to Sergio Aguero missing through injury.

The Swiss have never beaten Argentina, however they'll be hoping to win against the Argentinians in order to make their first quarter-final appearance for 60 years. No pressure.

The big issue

Both Switzerland and Argentina have shown they are capable of finding the back of the net in this World Cup, but defensively both sides have been at fault.

Argentina's defence was never going to be labelled as on-par with their attacking options, and this was made clear when Ahmed Musa scored twice for Nigeria in the final round of matches in Group F.

Defenders such as Ezequiel Garay and Pablo Zabaleta bring plenty of experience to the back-line, but it will be up to defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano and Fernando Gago to dictate play from the back and cut off any Swiss attack.

Despite conceding only one goal against Ecuador and keeping a clean-sheet against Honduras, Switzerland's defence was dealt a harsh blow when going up against the more capable attacking outfit of France, losing 5-2 at the Arena Fonte Nova.

Against Argentina, full-backs Ricardo Rodriguez and Stephan Lichsteiner must not put a foot wrong when moving the ball forward and in off the wings during attacking plays. However, the Swiss will definitely be in for a challenge with Johan Djourou and Fabian Schaar at the centre of defence.

The game breaker

For Argentina - Lionel Messi. He's found his World Cup form and the Argentine captain will look to add to his current tally of four goals in the competition.

For Switzerland - Xherdan Shaqiri. He's the same height as Lionel Messi, and is just as important to the success of his national team.

Shaqiri scored a hat-trick against Honduras in the group stages and will provide plenty of pace to keep the Argentine defence on their toes, with former Basel team-mate Granit Xhaka providing dangerous balls in the final third for Shaqiri to pounce on.

Prediction: Argentina 2 – 1 Switzerland

Both teams have options up front that can cause serious trouble for defenders, but Messi will lead the charge and break the Swiss defence open.