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World Cup: Argentina, Switzerland fans prepare for last-16 clash

Fans were gearing up for the World Cup last-16 match between Argentina and Switzerland on Tuesday (July 1) outside Sao Paulo's Corinthians arena.

SAO PAULO: Fans were gearing up for the World Cup last-16 match between Argentina and Switzerland on Tuesday (July 1) outside Sao Paulo's Corinthians arena.

The winner of the match will play either Belgium or the United States in the quarter-finals on Saturday (July 5).

Switzerland are hoping the large Brazilian contingent expected in the crowd at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo will be backing them against the hosts' arch-rivals Argentina.

However, there was at least one Brazilian at the Corinthians arena who will be cheering on the fellow South Americans.

"(Argentina) will go through easily today against Switzerland. It will be quick, and I'm going to cheer. I am Brazilian but I love football, and I am a big fan of Argentine football," said Brazilian fan, Claiton.

Another Argentina fan, Pablo Garcia, said he hoped his team would make the final and beat Brazil at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium on July 13.

"What do I expect? To watch a beautiful match, a big spectacle, that Argentina wins, that we go through to the quarters and we catch Brazil in the final and take the championship away from them," said Garcia.

While Argentina's defence will be hoping to shackle Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland's back line has an arguably tougher task in shutting out an inspired Lionel Messi.

The 27-year-old, whose stuttering international profile before this World Cup was the only blip in an otherwise stellar career, has set about putting that right with four goals in Brazil so far.

He also scored his first international hat-trick the last time Argentina and Switzerland met, in a friendly in 2012.

Argentina have relied heavily on their number 10's talents -- he has scored four of the team's six goals in three narrow wins.

"It will be very difficult, but if we mark Messi well, maybe we have a chance," said Switzerland fan, Stephane Lindemberger, who added that the final score would be, "1-0 Switzerland."

Far from waltzing through the groups stages, none of their victories was comfortable, and only an injury-time winner from Messi ensured three points against lowly Iran.

Argentina, aiming for their third World Cup title, will be without injured forward Sergio Aguero, with Ezequiel Lavezzi set to take his place in a continued three-man attack also comprising Messi and Gonzalo Higuain.

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