In the round of 16, Argentina will face Switzerland in the first tie of the day post which Belgium will be up against a resolute USA. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, former Indian skipper Baichung said that Lionel Messi and heat could be the only defining factors in the first match. But at the same time, Baichung strongly feels that Switzerland still have a good chance to pull off an upset.
Excerpts from the conversation:
What`s your prediction for today`s opening match between Argentina and Switzerland?
So far, we have seen only the individual brilliance of Lionel Messi in most of the matches Argentina have played in this World Cup. If they want to beat Switzerland in today`s tie, then the other ten players also have to give their best. But it`s going to be a tough match for Argentina.
What if we compare both the Messi`s – Lionel Messi and `Alpine Messi` Xherdan Shaqiri?
I think both the players have done excellent job so far for their teams in this tournament. If Messi plays for a big club (Barcelona), then Shaqiri too plays for Bayern Munich. And especially in today`s match, the pressure would be more on Lionel Messi rather than Shaqiri. Another factor that goes in favour of Shaqiri is that his entire team is performing well, whereas, Argentina have relied entirely on their star striker so far.
What would be the other factor than Messi that can trouble Switzerland?
Most of the factors are in favour of Switzerland. Argentina have already lost their well-known striker in Sergio Aguero due to injury, which is a big set-back. Then Angel Di Maria`s overall performance is also not quite impressive. But yes, one factor that can trouble the Swiss team would be the heat and humid conditions. We have already seen the impact of heat on a few teams and players at this World Cup, especially on the European teams. So apart from Messi, weather condition could be another factor that can affect Switzerland`s performance.
Another match of the day is between Belgium and USA, what you have to say about that match?
To be very frank, I didn`t expect such an amazing performance from USA. They have played attacking football with right attitude. Their fame of mind has been good so far. Under the experienced German coach Jürgen Klinsmann, their performance has improved a lot. But still, I rate Belgium over USA. The kind of team Belgium has, and especially the way they are playing is outstanding. In fact, Belgium have everything which is needed to win the prestigious World Cup trophy.