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Argentina seek form to back results

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02 Jul 2014 14:16:57

Argentina seek form to back results

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero has warned his team-mates they must not get ahead of themselves despite their progression to the World Cup quarter-finals.

Argentina, tipped by many to go all the way in Brazil, remain on course for the final after they edged past Switzerland in Sao Paulo on Tuesday evening.

Angel Di Maria's 118th-minute winner triggered raucous celebrations on the pitch in the Arena Corinthians, but Argentina know they have not lit up the World Cup as many had expected them to. Not yet, anyway.

All four victories for Alejandro Sabella's men have been by the one goal, so any optimism from within the camp is tinged with caution.

"After the game we sang, we jumped and shouted, but now we have to have a cool head for the next match," the Argentina goalkeeper said.

"The truth is this was a very hard game, just like the ones we have had before.

"All the matches we have ahead of us now will be hard too.

"We did not have much fluency about us in the first half against Switzerland, but we won and that is all that matters."

Should Argentina beat Belgium in Brasilia on Sunday, they will come up against either Holland or Costa Rica in the semi-finals.

Argentina have been heavily reliant on Lionel Messi so far in this campaign.

The Argentina captain scored four goals in the group stages and he now has one assist to his name after setting up Di Maria at the Arena Corinthians.

Messi was surprised to pick up the man of the match award.

"I'm not sure I deserve it," he said.

Di Maria probably deserved it more. Switzerland had to resort to bully-boy tactics to stop the winger on a few occasions as he threatened down both wings, and his low finish was top-class.

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano usually considers Di Maria a big rival given that he plays for Real Madrid, but he is happy to play alongside the 26-year-old for the national side.

Mascherano said: "He's a fantastic player.

"He covers every blade of grass and his technique is great too.

"Playing against him is tough, really tough. At least we're on the same side right now.

"I can tell you, it's a lot nicer having him on our side."

Argentina's victory came at a cost, however. The impressive full-back Marcos Rojo picked up his second yellow card of the tournament, meaning he will miss the Belgium game.

Sabella is confident Jose Maria Basanta, a 30-year-old defender who plays for Mexican side Monterrey, is a good enough replacement.

"Most probably Basanta will play the next game," the Argentina coach said. "Marcos does everything at a very high level but we also trust Basanta."

Sabella started planning for Belgium straight away, while his opposite number on Tuesday night, Ottmar Hitzfeld, flew home to begin his retirement.

Hitzfeld, who won seven Bundesligas and two Champions Leagues, leaves Switzerland after six enjoyable years.

"He put together a really good team that will last for many years to come," Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka said.

Striker Josip Drmic added: "He's done a great job."


PA

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