We had all the action as the last day of second round action got under way.
IT WAS OVER to São Paulo for the penultimate second round game of this year’s World Cup, the Alpine Messi - Xherdan Shaqiri – versus the real one as Switzerland take on Argentina.
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Hello and welcome our coverage of Argentina and Switzerland. First things first, here are the teams.
Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Garay, Fernandez, Rojo, Mascherano, Gago, Di Maria, Higuain, Messi, Lavezzi.
Switzerland: Benaglio, Lichtsteiner, Djourou, Schar, Rodriguez, Behrami, Inler, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Mehmedi, Drmic.
And here is how they’ll line up when they take the field:
Here in the office we’ve made the following predictions for this game:
Fintan: 3-1 Argentina
Ben: 4-2 Argentina
Adrian: 4-1 Argentina
Murray: 3-0 Argentina
Eamon: 3-1 Argentina
Steven: 3-2 Switzerland
I’m being wildly optimistic about Switzerland, mostly because I tipped them pre-tournament to be the last European team left standing. It’s more hope than expectation.
But enough about us, how do you see this game going? Give us your predictions in the comment section below.
Kick-off: And we’re under way.
4 mins: Very little happening so far. Switzerland look to be adopting the Netherlands’ approach against Mexico of sitting back and letting the opposition doing all the work.
6 mins: Argentina have the opportunity to swing in a free kick. Switzerland clear comfortably after Gago’s tame effort barely clears the 18 yard line.
7 mins: Switzerland threaten for the first time, Drmic fouled near the corner flag but nothing comes from Inler’s speculative effort.
11 mins: We’re still in the early stages but Argentina look to be targeting the left wing with both Xhaka and Lichtseiner now having given away frees for fouls on Di Maria in that area.
15 mins: Zabaleta floats in a nice ball from the right after some poor defending by the Swiss. Benaglio gathers easily though.
18 mins: This performance has been standard Argentina so far. Very little in the way of quality and just waiting for Messi to do his thing. He almost broke through there but Rodriguez did well to snuff out the threat.
22 mins: Switzerland definitely adopting a rope-a-dope tactic. They’ve been very unwilling to commit too many men forward so far, even from set pieces.
24 mins: A Messi free-kick is flicked on by Higuain but it goes harmlessly over.
26 mins – CHANCE! Switzerland win their first corner after good work by Shaqiri down the right. The set piece is a good one and leads to another which the Swiss take quickly.
The ball works its way to Xhaka whose shot is well saved by Romero.
This is a good spell from the Swiss.
28 mins – CHANCE! Now this game is a bit better. Switzerland fail to deal with a routine ball and the chance falls to Lavezzi but his effort is tame from six yards out.
29 mins – CHANCE! Another golden opportunity for the South Americans but nobody can get on the end of Di Maria’s superb corner.
31 mins: Di Maria has moved over to the right and is causing a lot of trouble for Switzerland. So much for the accusations of Argentina being a one man team. The Real Madrid man has been their best player in the opening half hour.
34 mins: Lavezzi gives away a soft free-kick and Romero has to get a strong hand to it with the Swiss lurking.
35 mins – Yellow Card: Lavezzi is upended by Xhaka and picks up the game’s first booking.
38 mins – GREAT CHANCE! Drmic is clean through on goals with only Romero – who bizarrely didn’t move off his line – to beat and, instead of putting his foot through it, he tried to be too clever and chipped the ball straight into the Argentine goalkeepers grateful hands.
40 mins: Di Maria with another half chance for Argentina but his effort is tame.
44 mins: Fluffed one on one effort aside, Drmic has been good for Switzerland and has won his side another corner.
And just as everyone – okay, just me – predicted, it’s the Swiss who are on top and who have created the better chances in this one.
We’ve had our half-time oranges, okay, curry and the second half is about to get under way.
Kick-off: Switzerland get the second half started.
46 mins: Djourou deals well with a Lavezzi cross. Composed defending.
47 mins: Messi floats in another free kick but it’s well cleared. On the counter-attack, Mascherano gives away a free of his own.
49 mins – CHANCE! Shaqiri’s free kick causes Romero much more trouble than it should have but the ‘keeper eventually deals with it.
Switzerland start the second half well.
52 mins: Rodriguez strikes one from back in Switzerland that goes as wide as you’d expect.
Looking back at our scoreline predictions pre-game, I think I can speak for everyone in TheScore.ie office when I say we were wildly optimistic.
56 mins: More than a hint of confusion in the Swiss area but Rodriguez blocks Di Maria’s effort and they eventually clear.
58 mins – CHANCE! Rojo almost opens the scoring as Bengalio looked to be going the wrong way but the Swiss ‘keeper sorted himself out and saved.
61 mins – GREAT CHANCE! Brilliant save from Benaglio denies Higuain after a fantastic header. That’s the South American’s best chance of the game.
Argentina growing into the game.
63 mins: I said it in the first half and I’ll say it again. Argentina have their most success down the left. Anything good they produce is coming from that side.
65 mins – Substitution: Fernandes is on for Xhaka as Switzerland make their first chance.
67 mins: Messi picks up the ball on the half-volley at the edge of the area but his shot goes just over. The goalkeeper looked to have it covered but still a decent chance for the Barcelona midfielder.
68 mins: Drmic penalised for pulling on Rojo when he’d have been better trying to win the ball.
Here’s that Messi chance from a few minutes ago:
73 mins – Yellow card: Fernandes, only on the field a matter of minutes, picks up Switzerland’s second booking.
Substitution: Palacio replaces the increasingly ineffectual Lavezzi
74 mins: Palacio takes a clear header off his team-mate Higuain. He really should have left it to the Napoli striker.
75 mins: More holes starting to open in the Swiss defence. You can write your own jokes.
77 mins – CHANCE! Messi finishes off a great run with a cracking effort that Benaglio can’t hold on to. Palacio seems to clatter the keeper on the follow up but there’s no free kick to the Swiss player.
This game is beginning to have late Lionel Messi winner written all over it.
81 mins – Substitution: Drmic is replaced by Seferovic and the Swiss manager Ottmar Hitzfeld looks to freshen things up.
84 mins: Rojo’s effort will soon come down with snow on it. Terrible effort when Argentina had men queueing up in the area.
88 mins: Another roaming Messi run but Palacio can’t finish.
89 mins – Yellow card: Rojo picks up the first Argentinian booking of the game and will miss their next game…if there is on.
Peep, peep, peep. And we’re going to extra-time again. Worst game of the second round so far?
It was an impressive jostle to be fair:
Kick-off: Extra time has started.
ET 2 mins: The extra thirty minutes have started the way the first 90 finished with Argentina having approximately 70% of the possession.
ET 3 mins: Nice move from Switzerland against the run of play but there’s nobody there to meet the cross and Argentina clear.
ET 4 mins – CHANCE! Palacio gets his head to a Messi free kick but Benaglio saves comfortably.
ET 5 mins: Inler wastes another Switzerland set piece but the ball doesn’t clear the first man. Not good enough from the European side at the moment.
ET 9 mins: Half chance for Switzerland but Seferovic – even with fresh legs – can’t stay onside.
ET 13 mins: Switzerland definitely growing into the game without actually creating anything in the way of a clear cut opportunity. Even Messi is back defending for Argentina though. Johnny Giles will be happy.
ET 15 mins +1 – Substitution: Rojo goes off with Jose Basanta taking his place.
HALF-TIME EXTRA-TIME -
This might be a reason why it’s scoreless after 105 minutes of football.
ET 16 mins – Substitution: Gago goes off and Biglia is on for Argentina.
ET 17 mins: Switzerland look less lethargic than Argentina but will they take the risks required in the second half to avoid the penalty shootout?
ET 18 mins – CHANCE! Di Maria forces Benaglio into a wonderful save in the Swiss goal with a snap shot from the edge of the area.
ET 22 mins: Argentina better than they were in the opening period of extra time but still far, far from their best.
He’s not wrong:
ET 23 mins – Substitution: Dzemaili replaces Mehmedi as Switzerland make their final change.
GOAL – (ET 28′) Di Maria! We’ve been robbed. After enduring 118 minutes of this, Argentina have gone and ruined the joy of a penalty shootout but Lionel Messi had to go on one of those solo runs of his before setting up Angel Di Maria who looks to have sent Argentina into the quarter-finals.
ET 30 + 1 – GREAT CHANCE! Switzerland miss a glorious chance. Dzemali’s header rattles off the bar from five yards. The rebound hits his knee and goes wide.
Had to score!
Here’s Di Maria’s goal to make up for it.
It’s all over. Argentina are through but this is how close Switzerland came to brining us penalties:
Well that’s it from me. Can’t help but feel we’ve been cheated of the drama of penalties – and probably Argentina going through anyway – but Messi was always going to be involved in any winner.
How much longer can they continue to heap all that pressure on their number 10′s shoulders though?
Thanks as always for joining us. We’ll have full coverage of USA starting shortly.