As Argentina & Belgium face-off in the quarter-final of the World Cup, we have compiled an XI of the best players from each team based on their performances solely in this tournament, with positional strength a criteria.
Courtois has become the undisputed number 1 for Belgium, despite what Simon Mignolet thinks and says, and deservingly so as well. On the back of yet another excellent season at Atletico Madrid, the young keeper has done well thus far in the tournament too. Having conceded only 2 goals in 4 games, Courtois and Belgium will have to be on the top of their games to thwart Argentina’s attack.
Despite playing second fiddle at Atletico, he is definitely Wilmots’ first choice at the right-back position. Aside from being rested for the last group game, Alderweireld has played every single minute of all the other 3 games. He’ll be another important cog in the Red Devils’ defence ahead of their quarterfinal.
Daniel Van Buyten
At 36, Van Buyten is probably playing the last major tournament of his career and his experience will be crucial to the Belgian cause. Despite his advanced age, Van Buyten has played every minute of the tournament thus far and looked solid in the heart of the Belgian defence.
Completing our 3 man defence is 25 year-old Federico Fernandez. The man who plies his trade in Naples has played a key role for Argentina alongside Garay and for Argentina to go through to the semifinal he needs to have a good game especially with Rojo suspended.
The experienced midfielder may not be captain as he was in South Africa but there’s no denying that he’s still a leader for the South American giants. The Barcelona man has been at his combative best in the centre of the park and the defensive screen that he provides is vital for Argentina.
Alongside Mascherano in the double axis in front of the defence is Axel Witsel. Witsel is a key member of Wilmots’ squad and will be one of the first names on the team sheets. Good both on and off the ball, Witsel will be patrolling the midfield with that noticeable afro of his.
One of Europe’s brightest talents, Hazard will be looking to take his team through to the semifinals. Very much the star man of Belgium’s ‘golden generation’, the Chelsea midfielder has already made his presence felt with 2 assists in the tournament, one notable setting up Origi in the win against Russia.
Kevin de Bruyne
De Bruyne has once again shown his technical quality in the tournament and has looked bright for Belgium. Playing in an interchangeable role with Fellaini, he has showcased his ability and was the man who got the breakthrough against a stubborn Howard in the Round of 16 with a neat finish.
Angel Di Maria
Coming off the back of an excellent second half of the campaign with Real Madrid, Di Maria along with Messi forms the ‘go to men’ for Argentina. An excellent dribbler with pace and a sweet left foot, he’s coming into the game on the back of a priceless goal against Switzerland which sent the Argentinians through.
A man that needs no introduction, Lionel Messi can get into any Combined XI. ‘Messi is nothing without Xavi and Iniesta’ has long been a lazy jibe against him and Messi is using this World Cup to dispel his doubters. Thriving under the responsibility of being captain, Messi will be dreaming of World Cup glory.
Supplementing Messi in attack is young Divock Origi. The youngster who might not have even seen playing time this World Cup if not for Christian Benteke’s injury has impressed all with his cameos in the group stages. In fact, he did enough to warrant a start against USA.
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