Argentina will face their toughest test of the 2014 World Cup when they meet Belgium in their quarterfinal match on Saturday and the betting line reflects that fact.
Argentina is even odds to defeat Belgium in this battle of group stage first-place squads, according to most sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, the lines partner to SBNation.
With tournament odds of 4-1, Argentina has been one of the favorites in World Cup futures wagering since the draw last December. Captained by superstar Lionel Messi, currently the 2-1 favorite to win the Golden Boot in World Cup player props betting, Argentina was expected to dominate offensively at Brazil 2014.
However, apart from Messi's four goals so far in the tourney - without which the Argentines may have already been eliminated - the squad has struggled at times to produce offense. Aside from the offensive fireworks on display by both squads in a 3-2 group stage win over Nigeria, Argentina has been frustrated by patient, disciplined opponents that have brought a defense-first game plan to the pitch.
An absence of secondary scoring has also been a concern, with only two other Argentines potting goals to this point. Messi set up both.
After recording three wins in the group stage to capture top spot in Group H, it took all that Belgium had to defeat the United States in the most exciting match of the World Cup so far. However, despite their winning record, the Belgians enter the quarterfinal as nearly 3-1 moneyline underdogs.
The Belgians qualified for the World Cup in spectacular fashion, going undefeated while not giving up a single during European qualifying. After failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2006 and 2010, it appeared that Belgium were returning with a vengeance, with a next-generation lineup capable of playing exciting offensive soccer.
But just like their quarterfinal opponents, Belgium have struggled with offense, scoring just six times in their four matches. Five of those goals have come past the 80-minute mark, stealing exciting one-goal victories for the Red Devils, but raising concerns about their failure to fill the net against inferior opponents.
Fortunately for Belgium, they have received goal production from multiple sources, and without the heroics of American goalkeeper Tim Howard, the Belgians surely would have run up the score after firing 38 shots against the United States.
If Belgium can sustain a similar attack against a shaky Argentine defense, they may finally get the offensive breakthrough that fans have expected. The problem is that the Argentines can match them strike-for-strike if the game opens up.
The total in Saturday's match is set at 2.5, with the UNDER favored at 20-31 and the OVER pegged at 13-10. We play OVER the total.
Argentina vs. Belgium prediction: 3-2 Argentina