United States vs Belgium
by Ryan Kramer
Time: Tuesday July 1st @ 1:00 PM Pacific
Location: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil
Weather: 75° F with a 20% chance of rain
Radio: ESPN Radio
Spread(90min): United States +.5 (-110) / Belgium -.5 (-110)
To Advance: United States +165 / Belgium -220
Podcast: World Cup Knockout Stage Preview
The United States has overcome large odds to get out of the Group of Death, and with that major accomplishment also comes the big story line. Will they play as though they have already done enough?
Klinsmann knows his side must do better against a Belgium side that entered the World Cup as the 5th favorite to win it all. How will they do that you ask, well there is some optimism surrounding Altidore’s availability for the match allowing for Dempsey to drop back into his playmaker role.
Belgium has seen a ton of hype coming into the World Cup, but is this really the beginning of a golden era for the Red Devils? They are one of only four countries to cruise through the group stage with 9 points.
That being said, they didn’t do it in an impressive fashion; only winning by one goal in each game. Can they get their offense going and will their defense continue to shut out their opponents (the one goal they allowed was a penalty kick)?
Perhaps it’s my American pride, perhaps its because the United States has looked so impressive in their transitional offense, but I refuse to call their style “Parking the Bus”. Similar to all three group stage matches they will run out a 4-2-3-1 that employs strong defending mid-fielders and very capable overlapping full-backs.
The United States will not win the possession battle vs Belgium, but if they can do two things, they may just find themselves in a position to make some noise. Number one: can the American defense hold up strong against the slow meticulous build up that Belgium will certainly employ? Number two: can Beasley and Johnson and their overlapping attack exploit the lack of any true left and right fullback (they start 4 center backs) for Belgium?
As I mentioned earlier, this is thought to be the beginning of a golden era in Belgium futbol and for that to be the case they must show their perceived class against “weak” Americans. Running out in their very interchangeable 4-3-3, Belgium will continue to dominate the ball with the strength of their team being the midfield and their holding ability.
The question then becomes can their building up overlapping style produce more than it has in the past 3 games.
It seems pretty obvious to me that Belgium will dominate the possession, but their build up style hasn’t produced many goal scoring opportunities. Call me crazy, but Belgium’s strength in their build-up play may factor into the American’s strength of the counter attack.
If Belgium gets too aggressive with their overlaps and build-up, don’t be surprised if the United States makes them pay with the transition offense. There is no reason to believe that the United States can’t produce the biggest win in their World Cup history on Tuesday.
The heart is clearly influencing this pick, but the United States and Belgium play to a 120 minute 1 – 1 draw leading to a stellar PK battle with 2 of the best keepers in the world. USA wins 4-3 on penalties.
Stars and Stripes 1(4) – The Red Devils 1(3)
Listen to the our World Cup Knockout Stage Preview where we breakdown the matchup further.
Ryan Kramer is a writer and co-host for the Sports Gambling Podcast.
Follow the show on twitter @GamblingPodcast.