Lionel Messi and Argentina continue their quest to win the World Cup as they take on Australia in the last 16. Inform your World Cup round of 16 predictions ahead of the first knockout round of Qatar 2022.
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Host Gareth Wheeler is joined once more by Jake Osgathorpe, Andrew Beasley and Simon Edwards to review the World Soccer Cup 2022 Group Stage and look ahead to the last 16 ties.
Argentina likely to overpower the Socceroos
After losing to Saudi Arabia in their opening game, Argentina have bounced back well and look a real threat heading into the round of 16. Having topped Group C, Lionel Scaloni’s squad now face a surprise opponent in the next round, as they prepare to go head-to-head with Australia. The Aussies finished second to France in Group D and have reached the World Cup knockout stages for the first time since 2006. Graham Arnold’s men knocked out Denmark by sitting back and trying to score on the break, which they did to good effect with Mathew Leckie grabbing the winner.
However, this round-of-16 clash could prove too much for the Socceroos, especially considering the strength in depth that Argentina have in the attacking positions.
Lionel Messi is obviously the standout danger man, but there is certainly no lack of supporting stars – with the likes of Julián Álvarez, Lautaro Martínez, and Ángel Di Maríacausing a real threat in and around the opposition’s goal. The South American giants achieved 23 shots, 12 of which were on target, during their 2-0 group win over Poland and it’s likely to be more of the same against the Socceroos.
In contrast, Australia had just 31% possession in their win over Denmark and 38% in their 4-1 defeat to France in their opening game.
Trying to break down Argentina will be very tough for Australia, when you consider Scaloni’s men have kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight international matches.
Argentina are expected to stick with a 4-3-3 formation, which will probably see Martínez and Di María join Messi in the front three.
After losing to Saudi Arabia in their opening game, Argentina have bounced back well.
After his goal and quality performance in their win over Poland, Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister will continue in his midfield role alongside Enzo Fernández and Rodrigo de Paul.
Meanwhile, Australia are likely to play a 4-4-2 formation but there could one change from the side that defeated Denmark 1-0 to seal qualification. Midfielder Craig Goodwin came off at half-time and it’s been suggested that his replacement, Keanu Baccus could be included in the starting 11 on Saturday.
Argentina vs. Australia predictions
It’s hard to see anything other than an Argentina victory and there is every chance it will come in normal time, as their attacking strength is likely to see them break through a stubborn Australian backline.
Messi has already got two goals to his name following the group-stage matches and it should have been three, having seen his penalty saved in the first half against Poland.
The PSG superstar is currently joint-top of the World Cup xG standings and, playing in his last World Cup, he seems determined to win the only major trophy that has eluded him so far.Messi is averaging 3.96 shots per game and will see this clash as a big chance to also increase his hopes of being the tournament’s top scorer.
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