The big question is not whether New Zealand will win but rather whether a way exists in which Argentina can actually win this one.
Starting with Argentina; we need to take into consideration what has come before this game to get a picture of their true chances.
In the 2007 World Cup, they were semi-finalists where they lost their game but ended with a bronze medal.
In 2015, they were semi-finalists when they lost their game and missed their bronze medal against South Africa. Sanchez was the top scorer at the tournament with 97 points but in that match, he was outscored by Handre Pollard.
In recent years they have beaten the All Blacks twice, the first time in their history. They have also grown in stature at this World Cup and they bring serious physicality to each game.
If they want to give themselves a fighting chance, they need to do the following:
- Play Sanchez – he has played at this level and knows how to keep the scoreboard ticking. Every point will count in this game for the Argentinians and one or two missed penalties might be the difference if they want to win.
- They can’t afford to have a weak moment – the Argentinian side isn’t known for their flair and excitement, but they get results with their continuous and punishing play. They will need to do that for at least 80 minutes (and a few extra seconds at the end of each half) to have a chance.
New Zealand on the other hand, and sadly for Argentina, are already in THAT mood. They have grown in their own self-belief and have a couple of scores to settle.
They had one with Ireland as a result of the series loss last year.
They have one with Argentina who beat them for the first time just a few years ago and have now done it twice. They also have a 28-year grudge about the final they lost against the Springboks back in 1995.
They have unsettled business.
On the back of the resurgence of Sam Cane and the unwavering passion of Ardie Savea, they can let their lethal backline loose on the Argentinians.
The challenge for Argentina is that they will have to constantly shift their focus from the forwards to the backs, and be equally effective in stopping both. If they over-steer to either side of their play, the All Blacks will punish them.
I think it will be a valiant fight by the Argentinians and if the end result isn’t a 1 or 2-pointer, it’s going to be a runaway game and we could see the All Blacks win by 15 to 20 points.