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Argentina vs. Greece

Argentina may not need any points against Greece on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stage, but that won't stop coach Diego Maradona's team from chasing a third straight victory and total domination of Group B.

La Albiceleste have been arguably the most impressive of the favorites in South Africa, and Greece will have to find an answer for Argentina's potent attack in order to avoid elimination.

After failing to convert on numerous chances while settling for a 1-0 win over Nigeria in its opener, Argentina had no problems scoring Thursday against South Korea.

Striker Gonzalo Higuain posted the first hat trick of the tournament to spark the Argentines to a 4-1 victory, raising hopes that the nation can capture its third World Cup.

"To help our team with goals is the best thing I can do," Higuain said. "We have had a great match from all points of view ... but we still have to maintain a cool head because this is just getting started."

Argentina poses a challenge for any opponent because of a star-studded group of forwards that includes Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez alongside Higuain, as well as Inter Milan standout Diego Milito off the bench.

"Argentina today is placing a lot of very dangerous players on attack," captain Javier Mascherano. "That could also be a benefit for us, because if you put four or five players above midfield it forces rivals to defend with more players and have fewer to attack you."

Even a loss likely wouldn't cost Argentina the Group B title because of its comfortable edge in goal differential, and Maradona may opt to rest some of his stars. Defender Walter Samuel will likely be among those on the bench after he left the win over South Korea in the 22nd minute with a thigh injury.

Mascherano and Gabriel Heinze may join him, with each having earned one yellow card. Jonas Gutierrez is suspended after earning yellow cards in each of the first two games.

The Greeks, tied for second in the group with South Korea, will need at least a draw to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stage. An upset win may not even be enough if South Korea beats Nigeria.

Greece still has confidence after scoring twice against a 10-man Nigerian team to win 2-1 on Thursday, earning its first-ever goals and points in World Cup play.

"I can't say whether we'll make it out of the group," striker Dimitris Salpingidis said. "But I can say that we'll leave with our heads held high."

Defense will be the focus for Greece as it tries to contain the Argentines, who won 4-0 in the only previous meeting during the 1994 World Cup.

"We have to be very careful to watch our defense, preserve the clean sheet for as long as possible, and try and make use of counter attacks," midfielder Thanassis Prittas said. "If we surprise them and score a goal, then the game might take a different turn."

© 2013 STATS LLC STATS, Inc

 
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