The second part of the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 action on Saturday sees the second favourites for the tournament Argentina in action. They will go up against one of the surprise packages Australia for a place in the quarter finals.
Both these teams made it through despite losing their opening match. Argentina went on to win Group C while Australia got the two wins they needed to finish second to France in Group C and so both teams will be confident going into this match.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the BBC 1 channel in the UK. A slightly longer build-up begins at 6.20pm with kick off coming along at 7pm.
Everyone knows that this tournament didn’t begin the way that Argentina would have wanted but there is no sporting competition that is about how you start it, they are all about how you finish them and since that shock loss to Saudi Arabia, which wasn’t as bad as everyone made out in terms of the Argentine performance, Argentina have looked very good without blowing teams away. Whether that sort of thing interests them remains to be seen but if they do want to put a side to the sword they might have the perfect dance partner here.
While Argentina might not have clicked as well as people watching on would have wanted them to given the attacking quality they have available to them, one area where they can’t be questioned is defensively. They have given up a combined xGA of 0.69 in their three group matches and if they continue to defend as well as they have been then they are going to be hard to get rid of, especially if that attacking talent begins to thrive.
It looked like this was going to be a tame showing at the World Cup for Australia when the French took them apart in their opening match but if there is one thing we know about any sporting team from that country it is that they don’t give up without a fight and never just make up the numbers. They hit back with two good wins over Tunisia and Denmark to make it into this stage and we know they will give it their all now they are here.
There is no getting away from the fact that they rode their luck in those two wins. Some big chances were missed against them but that isn’t their problem. Australia have scored in all three matches which is testament to their intent and belief. There are many bigger sides than them who have been happy to contain teams rather than worry about scoring. Australia will need to manage their attacking moments well and balance between sending men forward but not leaving themselves exposed. They have to be clinical too.
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Angel di Maria picked up a thigh issue in the previous game against Poland so he might not be risked from the start. Lionel Scaloni has to choose between Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez. Lionel Messi is set to play his 1,000th match.
Graham Arnold is expected to select the same team which beat Denmark in the previous match although Nathaniel Atkinson is pushing hard to get back to full fitness and could begin at full-back if he has made it.
This match is all about Argentina for me. If they play well and keep their focus and intensity high then it is hard to see the South American side not coming through. Whether they win by enough to cover some fairly high handicap lines for a knockout match remains to be seen though. I think Australia will offer something here but the only time they have come up against a hot team in form they were given a good beating which doesn’t bode well.
I fancy Argentina will win but I’m not as convinced they will cover the handicaps so I’ll head to the side markets for a bet on this game. The one that interests me is Australia to get over 2.5 cards. They are going to be spending a lot of the time chasing the ball around here and that might lead to them diving into a few tackles or having to produce strategic or professional fouls. The longer this one goes on the more tired Australia will get and as such the more mistimed those tackles will be. We have a Polish referee on show here who in 16 matches this term has dished out 81 yellows and a red card. He gave three cards in a fairly tame opening match of the tournament for him when France played Denmark and in five Champions League outings this season he has produced 24 yellows and a red. The card is never far from his hand and I suspect he’ll need to give three out to Australia to keep this one under control.
Back Australia – Over 2.5 cards for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Betfair