2014 World Cup Round of 16: Belgium vs United States

2014 FIFA World Cup – Round of 16
Belgium vs United States

Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova – Salvador, Brazil
Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN, Univision
Money Line: USA +285 / Belgium +105 / Draw +238
Point Line: Belgium -0.5 +105 / USA +0.5 -125
Total: over 2 -135 / under 2 +115
Odds to advance to the Quarterfinals: Belgium -190 / USA +161
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker

The United States looks to upset Belgium in the round of 16 and advance to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup.
The United States looks to upset Belgium in the round of 16 and advance to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup.

The last spot in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup is on the the line Tuesday in Salvador as Belgium takes on the United States. The winner will take on either Argentina or Switzerland in the quarterfinals Saturday.

Belgium leads the series against the United States 4-1-0. The United States won the first meeting against Belgium in the 1930 World Cup. Belgium has won 4 straight since then against the United States. Belgium won the last meeting 4-2 in May of last year in a friendly in Cleveland. That game was tied 1-1 at halftime but Belgium scored three goals in 15 minutes to take command of the match. Clint Dempsey added a late penalty kick for the US to make the final 4-2.

The United States is making their 10th overall appearance in the World Cup and 7th straight. They finished third in the first World Cup in 1930. They made it to the quarters in 2002 but haven’t advanced past that point.

The US was drawn into the brutal Group G with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. The Americans beat Ghana 2-1 to open group play when defender John Brooks had a header off a corner late in the match. The U.S. had a 2-1 lead against Portugal and would have secured a spot in the knockout phase with a win. However, Portugal scored late in stoppage time to send the US into a heartbreaking 2-2 draw. The Americans were still in good shape coming into the last group match against Germany last Thursday in Recife. They would win the group if they beat Germany and a draw would guarantee them second place and a place in the round of 16. Striker Thomas Muller scored the first goal of the match at 55 minutes. That would prove to be the final score as Germany clinched first place in the group. Portugal would beat Ghana 2-1 and both Portugal and the United States finished with four points. The US advanced on goal differential 0 to -3. It was quite an achievement for this team to come out of the so called Group of Death when so few people gave them a shot.

Belgium is making their 12th appearance overall in the World Cup and first since 2002. Belgium played in six straight World Cups from 1982-2002. Belgium finished fourth in 1986 their best finish. In 2002, Belgium lost to eventual champion Brazil in the round of 16.

Belgium was placed in Group H of the World Cup along with Algeria, Russia and South Korea. Belgium won all three group games including 2-1 against Algeria, and 1-0 against both Russia and South Korea Thursday in Sao Paulo. Belgium won the group with 9 points and Algeria came in second with 4 points.

The United States is coached by Jurgen Klinzmann. Striker Jozy Altidore strained his hamstring in the opener against Ghana. He missed both the Portugal and Germany matches but is probable against Belgium. There is some doubt as to whether Klinzmann will start Altidore though. If Altidore does return to the line-up the US will likely go back to the 4-4-1-1 formation with a rare diamond shaped midfield. Altidore and Dempsey will play the two forward positions. However, if Altidore doesn’t start, Klinzmann could use the 4-2-3-1 formation he used against Portugal and Germany with Dempsey as the lone striker. Dempsey has two of the four American Goals in the World Cup. Jermaine Jones and John Brooks have the other two US goals. Defender Omar Gonzalez started against Germany and made several key blocks and clearances.  Keeper Tim Howard has allowed 4 goals but he made some brilliant saves against Portugal and Germany to keep the Americans in both matches.

The United States has scored 4 goals and given up 4 goals in the World Cup. The Americans have 3 open play goals and one set piece goal.  The United States has 27 shots and 18 on target. They have completed only 2 of 29 crosses and have been called offisides 4 times. The US has 12 saves and 10 blocks. They have won 16 of 62 tackles. The Americans have completed 1,109 passes.

Belgium is coached by Marc Wilmots. Belgium will use a 4-2-3-1 formation. Belgium is battling several injuries especially in the midfield and on the back line. Defender Anthony Vanden Borre is out with a broken leg. Midfielder Steven Defour is suspended after getting a red card against South Korea. Captain Vincent Kompany and fellow defender Thomas Vermaelen are both doubtful with injuries. Kompany could start even if not completely fit.  Romelu Lukaku,  Divock Origi, Edin Hazard and Kevin Mirallas are the top scoring threats. Keeper Thibaut Courtois has only allowed one goal in the World Cup.

Belgium has outscored teams 4-1 so far in the tournament. Belgium has 4 open play goals and no set piece goals. Belgium has 43 shots with 28 on target. They have completed 10 of 54 crosses and been called offsides 14 times.  Belgium has 9 blocks and 9 saves. Belgium has won 6 of 30 tackles. Belgium has completed 1,187 passes. 

This will be a tall task for the Americans to beat a Belgium team loaded with young talent. The injuries on the back line for Belgium open the door a little, but the USA will still have to play an almost perfect game. This should be a low scoring game with Howard and Courtois being two of the top keepers in the world. I think Belgium wins 1-0.

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