Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Argentina bowed out in the quarterfinal stage in the last two World Cups, and they’re in grave danger of exiting Brazil in the same fashion.
Argentina takes on Belgium on Saturday (12 p.m. ABC) in a match that is crucial for the South Americans to finally find their mojo that has been missing all tournament long. It’s fair to say that the Albiceleste have not been at their best during the World Cup and they’ve relied on Lionel Messi to carry the team on their shoulders.
Both Argentina and Belgium are coming off very hard-fought 120-minute performances, with both wins coming down to the wire. Argentina has a slight advantage over Belgium in that Argentina played in cooler temperatures, but if Belgium can defend and control the ball in the manner they did against the USA, it may not matter.
Belgium similarly are a team of which more is expected out of them and they don’t seem to have realized their full potential. All six goals scored during the tournament have come after the 70th minute, a statistic that Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne, and Eden Hazard will have to change if they want to make it to the semifinal round.
An interesting battle to watch will be in midfield, with Argentina’s midfield three of Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia, and Angel Di Maria taking on Belgium’s Axel Witsel and Marouane Fellaini.
Here are some more notes on today’s World Cup slate:
NETHERLANDS vs. COSTA RICA
Costa Rica believe that anything is possible.
The small Central American nation of around 4.5 million people has made it to the quarterfinals, defeating Italy, Uruguay, and Greece on their way to an unprecedented achievement, and at this point, they have nothing to lose when they face the Netherlands on Saturday afternoon. (4 p.m. ESPN).
Goalkeeper Keylor Navas has been one of the team’s hero’s in the tournament but Los Ticos have also received great performances from the spine of their team; defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, midfielder Celso Borges, and forward Joel Campbell.
The Netherlands pulled out a victory from the jaws of defeat in fantastic fashion against Mexico in the Round of 16, but had to suffer through 90 minutes of intense heat. It looks like now that Louis Van Gaal is ready to roll the dice with forward Memphis Depay playing as a left wing back and Dirk Kuyt playing on the other side, hoping that the speed and work rate of the duo will tire out the Costa Rican midfield.
Costa Rica will be without starting centerback Oscar Duarte due to a red card suspension, meaning another player will need to step up to help stop the Netherlands front duo of Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben.
What do you think of today’s World Cup slate? Do you see Argentina defeating Belgium? Think that Belgium can score in the first half? Do you believe Costa Rica can advance to the semifinals?
Share your thoughts below.