Argentina vs Belgium World Cup 2014 preview: The key men for each team in the quarter-final

Who will Argentina and Belgium look to as they fight for a place in the final four?

Lionel Messi will look to take another step to the World Cup final later today, but which Belgium players can stop him?

Follow Argentina v Belgium live here

We look at the three key men Alejandro Sabella and Marc Wilmots will rely on in Brasilia and see what they must do to ensure it is their team in the semi-final.

Read more: Argentina vs Belgium - match preview
Five reasons why Belgium will beat Argentina
Five reasons why Argentina will beat Belgium
 

Argentina

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, in this game, as in any other that he plays, holds the key. Messi is the only player on the pitch with the capabilities of winning this football game alone. Messi has carried Argentina up to this point, and I strongly believe that he is going to carry Argentina the whole way to winning the World Cup. Expect the lightning quick drop of a shoulder, and before you know it Messi will have scored a trademark goal.

Angel Di Maria

Undoubtedly one of the best players in Europe this season, Di Maria is part of the Argentina engine room, his pace and quality in midfield is a real plus for the side. His quick distribution to Messi will be of vital importance, if Argentina can allow for some rapid build-up play and Di Maria can find Messi in space on the counter attack it will be very difficult for the Red Devils. As we saw against Switzerland too, when needs must Di Maria can be the man to finish off an important attack.

Marcos Rojo

Marcos Rojo may have been unknown to many before this World Cup but he has certainly made a big impression in Brazil. The 24 year old left-back plays for Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, but his recent performances have seen him heavily linked with a summer transfer to Liverpool. Rojo has done on the left for Argentina what his team-mate Pablo Zabaleta is renowned for doing on the right. He has bombed forward at will, linking up with the Argentine attackers, and adding another dimension to Argentina’s play, so much so that they have crossed the ball into the box more than any other team during this World Cup. Rojo also headed home the winner in a 3-2 group stage win against Nigeria. Left back Marcos Rojo has been one of Argentina's biggest attacking threats Left back Marcos Rojo has been one of Argentina's biggest attacking threats

Belgium

Eden Hazard

Undoubtedly Belgium’s most dangerous attacking threat, Eden Hazard really needs to step up at this World Cup. He has bags of ability but none of it has been on show. Hazard has the pace to hurt Argentina, their defence is by no means the best in the world, and he is capable of both getting in behind the back four, and of beating full-backs in one-on-one scenarios. In those positions, he can supply his team-mates in the middle, or even cut in himself, as we see him do so often for Chelsea. Hazard really does have star quality, but he needs to show it against Argentina in order to try and help the Belgians progress.

Divock Origi

Divock Origi is another fantastic young Belgian footballer, except unlike his team-mates, Origi isn’t as well known. That will soon change, though, as Origi has been building a reputation for himself in Brazil. He came as a squad player but in the eyes of coach Marc Wilmots he may have already eclipsed Romelu Lukaku, as Wilmots opted to start with Origi as his lone striker for the last-16 clash with the USA. Origi is tall, quick and powerful, he is a confident player who hasn’t been afraid to shoot at goal from anywhere. He can hurt Argentina in a number of ways and if Belgium’s midfield can perform he will certainly get the service to do so. Sulser said: Lionel Messi has not scored past Thibaut Courtois in seven matches

Thibaut Courtois

For Belgium to progress, Courtois will need to play well, very well. In fact, if Lionel Messi has a great game then Courtois needs to perform better than he ever has before; and Messi is in that sort of mood. However, the Argentine has not scored in seven matches against the 6ft 6in keeper. The gangly Belgian keeper has really been on form for Atletico Madrid, and looks set to return to his parent club, Chelsea, next season. If he can be the shot stopper Atletico fans know him as against Argentina, then Belgium may progress, and Courtois may return to Chelsea, a happier man.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup