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Jon Riley 26th Jun 2010 - 16:12

Argentina will have to play to their Mexi-mum to progress

Argentina face Mexico in Johannesburg with the winners set to face either England or Germany in the quarter-finals.

There is previous between these Latin American adversaries dating all the way back to 1930 but the most recent World Cup defeat for the Mexicans is still sorely felt by the team and the nation. In 2006 these two sides clashed in a last sixteen encounter in Leipzig. Despite Mexico impressing and outplaying Argentina for long periods it was Maxi Rodriguez's extra time volley that sent the Argentines through.

La Albiceleste cruised through their group with three victories from three scoring seven goals in the process. After naming a weakened side for the win against Greece Maradona could recall strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez in the place of Diego Milito and Sergio Aguero. Also returning will be Javier Mascherano, Gabriel Heinze, Walter Samuel and Javier Mascherano.

Mexico have reached the knock-out stage for the fifth time in a row. The highlight of the group stages for El Tri was undoubtedly the 2-0 win against 2006 World Cup runners up France.

However, their previous four campaigns all ended at the last 16. The Mexico side has been very settled throughout the tournament so far. Defender Efrain Juarez has completed a one-game ban and may come into the starting eleven, possibly at the expense of Hector Moreno. Striker Carlos Vela is back in training after a hamstring injury but is likely to begin on the bench.

A win for Argentina in 90 minutes is priced at 1/2 and if they can manage it would make it nine straight victories, their best run since 1998. To qualify through to the quarter-finals by any method is a shorter 2/9.

For the game to replicate the 2006 encounter and end in a draw can be backed at odds of 3/1.

A Mexico victory and revenge against the 1978 and 1986 World Champions is 6/1. If you feel that it might take extra time and penalties for Mexico to overcome their more illustrious opponents then we're offering 3/1 on the qualification market.

Every game so far we've highlighted an Argentina forward to open the scoring, an unknown quantity who plays in Spain by the name of Lionel Messi. So far, the World Player of the Season has yet to hit the scoresheet in any of Argentina's games but has played exceedingly well. Barcelona's brilliant attacker is 10/3 to break the deadlock in Soccer City and 4/5 to notch anytime.

The returning Gonzalo Higuain is the tournament's joint top scorer after his hat-trick against South Korea. The Real Madrid hitman could have had more if he had not been rested against Greece. He is 7/2 first scorer and 10/11 anytime.

Mexico's attack has been led by Guillermo Franco throughout the group stages, mainly utilized for his hold up play and willingness to run for the team. He is not the most prolific though, not finding the back of the net once in Group A. He is 9/1 to find his goal scoring form and open the scoring against Mexico while 10/3 to score at any point.

The man that breached the French defence and rounded Hugo Lloris for Mexico's first against the self imploding France was Manchester United's newly signed Javier Hernandez. He is priced at exactly the same odds as Franco, 9s and 10/3 on the respective markets.

This game should be a real highlight of the second round with both teams operating an attacking system with defensive deficiencies evident as well. I can see there being plenty of goals and will definitely be lumping on the over 2.5 goals selection in the total goals market, priced at 23/20. If you feel that over 2.5 is a conservative estimation over 3.5 goals can be backed at 3/1.

Mexico have only won four of their previous 25 meetings with Argentina, losing 11 and drawing 10. Given this fact and from watching both teams in detail during the group stages I can only see Argentina qualifying. I feel that they'll be able to do this in 90 minutes and will be backing Argentina to win 2-1 at 15/2.




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