In what promised to be a closely contested rematch of the…
Both the Belgians and the Americans are coming off with reasonably satisfying results coming out of their respective groups. Belgium topped a modest group (with nine points) – with the likes of Algeria, South Korea, and Russia; while the U.S. came out second in the “Group of Death,” (with four points) which featured Germany (who topped the group), Portugal, and Ghana.
The last time these two sides met, it was Belgium who came out on top, with a comfortable 4-2 win over the U.S. in a friendly in May 2013. Of course, things have changed since then, Christian Benteke, the Aston Villa striker, who scored two goals for the Red Devils, is out for the Belgians in this World Cup. The Belgians also have been underwhelming in the group stage, while the Americans fully deserved their progression into the Round of 16 with good performance against Ghana and a masterful performance against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
The dark horses Belgium will look to further display their talent against the U.S. national team. The talent on the European side is undeniable, however they haven’t been able to gel together on the World Cup stage as many would have expected them to. Make no mistake, the United States will have to put a masterful performance from all areas of the pitch in order to pull through against the Belgians. Clint Dempsey will have to be sharp, Michael Bradley has to be discplined on and off the ball, while Tim Howard has to have another one of his brilliant preformances.
Belgium will be confident with their chances. They have arguably the best goal keeper in the world in Thibaut Courtois, while the attacking talents of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Dries Mertens will keep the U.S. defense honest all match. The rear guard featuring Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, and Daniel Van Buyten is also one of the finest assembled at the tournement.
U.S. cannot be sloppy in possession, since their is plenty of pace for the Belgian offense that can easily exploit the backline. The best hope for the American side is to play a conservative game, frustrate and force the inexperience Belgian side into mistakes, then commit numbers forward to test the Belgian backline. For the Belgians, they will have to play intelligent football to break down a resolute defense they will face in the CONCACAF side.
There are simply too many variables the U.S. need to count on for them to progress. They will need to stifle the array of attacking talent, while forcing the Belgian side into uncharacteristic mistakes. The U.S. will have it all to do.
Final Score Prediction: 2-1 Belgium