Can the Swiss tame Lionel Messi in the Argentina vs. Switzerland Round of 16 match-up in the 2014 World Cup? La Nati will surely try but they need to dig deep if they want to survive the knockout game at the Arena de Sao Paulo in Sao Paolo, Brazil on Tuesday.
Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld apparently has an answer on how to contain the star forward for La Albiceleste.
"How to stop Messi? We'll show you tomorrow how we do it," declared Hitsfeld via FIFA.COM. "Of course I've thought with the staff how to go on and continue to the quarter-finals - so I don't think it's going to be my last match."
While confident, the 69-year-old coach knows that Messi will be a tough customer and that their defence needs to step-up especially as they suffered a 5-2 drubbing courtesy of France in the group stages.
"I think any defence will face problems when facing Messi. But problems are there to be solved. I trust my people, I trust my defence and the entire team. The entire team will have to perform, but I'm optimistic.”
Switzerland beat Ecuador, 2-1 and blanked Honduras, 3-0 to advance to the KO stages.
Meanwhile, Argentina, like their star, has been in form in this tournament beating Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2-1; Iran, 1-0; and Nigeria, 3-2 to top Group F. In each game Messi has scored making him a contender for the 2014 Golden Boot Award with four goals in three matches so far.
He's tied for second place with Thomas Mueller (Germany) and Neymar (Brazil) while James Rodriguez (Colombia) with 5 goals leads the top goal scorers in the tournament.
Alejandro Sabella is not a bit surprised with the play of his superstar.
"Messi's playing an amazing World Cup, that's what everybody expected," Sabella said to the tournament’s official website. "I expected it, so did his colleagues and so did all Argentinians in general. So of course we're happy, we're happy for the team and for him as well.
Also not surprisingly, Argentina is favoured big to win the match with betting odds of 1.17 while Switzerland is the underdog at 4.65. In the three-way betting lines, Argentina is at 1.53, Switzerland at 7.00 and a Draw at 4.20
In past six head-to-head match-ups, Switzerland has never won against Argentina, which carries a 4 win-2 draw-0 loss record into the match.
Probable Starting 11
Switzerland (4-4-2): Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, Rodriguez, Djourou, Schaer, Inler, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Behrami, Mehmedi, Drmi
Argentina (4-3-3): Romero, Garay, Zabaleta, Rojo, Fernandez, Gago, Di Maria, Mascherano, Lavezzi, Higuain, Messi