Messi-dependent Argentina face Belgium test

Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi (L) and Argentina's midfielder Angel Di Maria celebrate after scoring the 1-0 during of a Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. AFP Photo

Argentina will once again turn to Lionel Messi for inspiration when the team tackles star-studded Belgium in Brasilia on July 5 in a World Cup quarterfinal haunted by ghosts of yesteryear.

Victory would take Argentina into the last four - where either Holland or Costa Rica will await - for only the second time since it last won the tournament in 1986, beating Belgium in the semifinals en route.
But despite results living up to expectations - Argentina has won all four of its games to date - performances have not, and the team's dependence on Messi has been cited as the key factor.

With four goals in three matches, the Barcelona megastar was his side's saviour in the group phase, while in the 1-0 extra-time victory over Switzerland in the last 16 he seemed the only player capable of making a difference.

Diego Maradona was scathing of the team's performance, warning coach Alejandro Sabella that he is destined for “catastrophe” if he cannot alleviate some of the burden on the team's outstanding player.
Argentina's assault on the World Cup was supposed to be spearheaded by their 'Fantastic Four' attackers, but Messi is the only one who has lived up to his billing so far.

Sergio Aguero is a serious doubt for the Belgium game due to a muscle injury, Gonzalo Higuain is still waiting for his first goal, and despite scoring the winner against the Swiss, Angel Di Maria has delighted and exasperated in equal measure.

Facing accusations that his side are overly reliant on their number 10, Sabella said that “Argentina have always had a dependence on Messi.”

It is likely to be no different against Belgium and Messi's task will be rendered doubly difficult by the fact that the opposition goalkeeper...

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