Argentina v Switzerland: Key battles - Villa defender vital

Philippe Senderos Switzerland 2

Aston Villa defender Phillipe Senderos will need to play at his maximum if he is to keep the in-form Lionel Messi from scoring.

Lionel Messi vs Phillipe Senderos

What is there to say about Lionel Messi that hasn't been said before. He has scored four goals from three World Cup matches, a tournament that he has previously struggled to be at his best in, and looks highly motivated to win a World Cup for his first time. If he continues in that mood, Argentina could very much go all the way in this tournament.

In truth, I could have picked any Switzerland defender to have the job of marking Messi. Phillipe Senderos is likely to start at centre-back, and thus he will be the closest to the Argentine captain for most of the match. Senderos will need to be at his best to have any chance of stopping Messi, and that still might not be enough. He will need help in doing so, but his experience could be key in restricting Messi's impact.

Javier Mascherano vs Gokhan Inler

Mascherano has been brilliant so far in this World Cup. Playing in defensive midfield, it is his job to win the ball and protect his back four from the oppositions attacks. There have been times where the Argentine defence has looked vulnerable, but the Barcelona midfielder has been superb in nullifying that. More of the same required in this last 16 clash.

Gokhan Inler will know he will see little of the ball when Switzerland face Argentina, and be doing a lot of defending for his country. Inler though is more than capable of doing that and the 30 year-olds experience will be an integral if the Swiss midfield can protect their defence. 

Pablo Zabaleta vs Xherdan Shaqiri

Pablo Zabaleta loves to get forward. The Manchester City right-back has great energy and adds to the depth of attacking options Argentina have. However as the knockout stages are now here, his defensive responsibilities will grow for his side. In saying that, he is also a superb defender, he will need to show that in keeping Shaqiri quiet.

Shaqiri's hat-trick against Honduras was enough to understand why he is so highly thought of in Switzerland football. His two previous performances were not to a high enough standard though and showed his inconsistencies. He will get few chances to attack on Tuesday, but if he is at his absolute best, he can be a real handful for the vulnerable Argentine defence.

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