Thank you all for following my World Cup writing. It has been fun previewing the first 56 matches of the tournament.
I have accepted a job offer and am starting next week.
Because of lack of time I won’t be previewing the rest of the tournament. I will also be taking a break from writing at this website. I hope to eventually write about NFL and college football in the fall.
I’ll leave you with my final World Cup predictions with the round of 16 beginning Friday. I’m going to stick with my original bracket with most of these picks. Continue reading
Belgium recorded nine points in a favorable Group H. They dispatched Algeria, Russia and South Korea with late second half game-winners. Belgium had the shortest amount of travel during the group stage between their games. The United States had the most travel of any team and played in a group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. The United States went through on goal differential over Portugal.
There are still some question marks with the Belgium side after the group stage. There is talent at every position on the pitch but they weren’t convincing in their first three games. Captain Vincent Kompany is an injury doubt, which would be a huge loss to the Belgian back line. Eden Hazard is the most danger attacking player for Belgium and has to potential to play much better. The United States got good news Monday when it was announced Jozy Altidore would be available. The striker might not start but he could give the USA a boost off the bench. Clint Dempsey has played alone up top as a striker, which isn’t his best role.
The matchup I’m looking forward to is the battle of midfield triangles. Belgium looks like they have found a good mix with Kevin De Bruyne playing in front of holding midfielders Axel Witsel and Maurouane Fellaini. The United States central midfield trio of Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman have logged many minutes and covered a lot of territory in the group stage. It will be important that they neutralize the Belgians and try to improve on keeping possession for the United States.
Also it will be interesting to see who the USA starts on the wings. This is an idea for Jurgen Klinsmann:
Prediction: Belgium 2, USA 1 (after extra time)
I think this will be a very close match that can go either way. The amount of travel for the United States could be a difference against a fresh Belgium team that was able to rest some starters in their final group match.
Photo by Erik Drost