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Sunday 17 December 2017

Kompany: Nothing to fear against Argentina

Captain insists Belgium 'have a pretty good chance' in last eight

Belgium's Vincent Kompany celebrates after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Belgium and the USA at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Picture: AP Photo/Julio Cortez.
Belgium's Vincent Kompany celebrates after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Belgium and the USA at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Picture: AP Photo/Julio Cortez.

VINCENT KOMPANY insists Belgium have a good chance against Argentina in their World Cup quarter-final - with Red Devils coach Marc Wilmots claiming the South American side "lacks balance".

The Manchester City defender, who is a slight doubt for the match in Brasilia on Saturday after picking up a groin strain in the 2-1 win over the USA, said the reason Belgium had failed to impress in the group stage was that their opponents had played it tight.

The USA however played a much more open game and both sides had chances before Belgium secured their progression with two goals in extra time.

Kompany said: "If Argentina decide to play their usual attacking game, we'll have a pretty good chance against them.

FAVOURITES

"You need two teams to produce an exciting match. The Americans tried to push forward. That's all we were asking for. It takes two to tango, and they wanted the same thing as us."

Wilmots said he was pleased that for the first time in the World Cup Belgium were not the favourites and questioned the make-up of the Argentina side.

The Belgium coach said: "I know Argentina can play with three central defenders but I also saw a lack of balance in that team.

"For once we are not favourites and I don't mind about that at all, but we want to win and we want to go all the way.

"We will make sure we do well against a strong opponent but at this level we are all strong teams."

Meanwhile, Everton striker Romelu Lukaku spoke of his emotions after turning the USA match in favour of Belgium - he created the first goal and scored the second himself.

He said: "I almost cried after my goal. It was the greatest moment of my life. Scoring at the World Cup at the age of 21 is something I've trained for since I was a boy."

Meanwhile, 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.

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.

"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.

FLUENCY

"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 Saturday, they will come up against either the Netherlands 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."

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