TALE OF THE TAPE

Round Of 16 In 2014 World Cup: USA vs. Belgium

The United States have advanced to the Round of 16 in back-to-back World Cup’s for the first time in history. After getting second place in Group G, USA will face Group H winner Belgium. Belgium, who is full of immensely talented players that play in the EPL, was ranked 12th in the world heading into the tournament. Unlike the last two games for the Yanks, striker Jozy Altidore will be questionable for Tuesday’s game in Salvador, Brazil. Two of the world’s best keepers –Tim Howard and Thibaut Nicolaswill go toe to toe at the Arena Fonte Nova stadium. Who has the edge?

 

USA
Belgium
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Belgium v Russia: Group H - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
COACHING
Winner Jurgen Klinsman, who lost his final game to his home country in the group stages, is a World Cup Champion and 2-time European Champion as a player with ‘Schland’. He also led Germany as a coach to a 3rd place finish in 2010 World Cup. Team USA brought him in for his experience and his high IQ of the game. Many fans have criticized his decision on leaving Galaxy Star Landon Donovan out of team. But now, fans have moved on after making it passed through of the “Group of Death.”
Marc Wilmots, who has been with the Belgium national team since 2009, took over the head coaching position in 2012. Under his reign, he took them to an all-time high in the FIFA World Rankings at No. 5 in October. He is Belgium’s all-time leading scorer in the World Cup with 5 goals.
EXPERIENCE
US have some experience over Belgium. USMNT has played in every WC since 1990. However, Belgium has already defeated the US two times under Klinsmann – May 2013 and 2011. US has a hand-full of players who play in Europe, but most of them still play for MLS, which doesn't compare to European leagues.
Winner Belgium is full of talented players who play in the English Premiere League. Captain Vincent Kompany has big-time experience on the big stage. He helped his club team Manchester City to an EPL title after scoring a game-winning goal against rival Manchester United in April of 2012. Belgium has also won its first three games of the tournament, earning a spot to play US in Round of 16
GAME CHANGERS
Clint Dempsey, who played for Fulham from 2007-2012, is the all-time leading goal scorer with 50 for the EPL club based out of London and has 106 appearances with 38 goals with the Yanks. He has scored twice in the tournament and both have been go-ahead goals for the Yanks. It would be a huge lift if they get striker Jozy Altidore back from injury. They need a big body against Belgium’s Kompany. German-Born is Jermaine Jones, who is also questionable against Belgium, is a rising star for Team USA.
Winner Man City’s Vincent Kompany is one of the world’s best defenders, but is ailing a groin injury that he has played though the first two game before sitting out the third. As of Saturday afternoon, it is reported that Kompany will likely sit out due to the injury. The 28-year-old is BIG and STRONG, so it will be tough without Altidore to score on the US. Everton’s Romy Lukaku was supposed to build on his 15-goal loan-spell with the London Club, but has underperformed so far the World Cup. It seems defenders knew what was coming. If he gets a goal against the US, watch out for more to come. He will look for his breakthrough against USMNT.
GOAL KEEPERS
Winner Tim Howard is known as one the best goalkeepers in US history. The 35-year made an unbelievable save in the Portugal game, which could have been a game-changer. Instead they tied. Howard has played in some of the best clubs in the world – Manchester United and Everton. He is old at 35, but his experience in the World Cup could give him the edge over the young phenom Thibaut Courtois.
At 22, Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois is arguably the best keep in the world. Like Howard, he has played in the big stage at a young age. Courtois has been with Chelsea since 2011 and was on a loan with Atletico Madrid. His greatness lead Atletico to a final matchup against rival Real Madrid in the Champions League, where the lost 2-1. In the last two seasons with Atletico, he won the Ricardo Zamora Trophy (Top Geeper in LA LIGA). This is his first World Cup and played against some weak competition in the group games. US game will be the toughest game in his young career in the World Cup.
LAS VEGAS
Winner +320 is a very attractive price. Vegas is really putting down the Yanks as big underdogs.
If I were in Vegas, I would not bet on Belgium at -120. After barely defeating three very weak teams, they shouldn't be the clear favorites. But somehow, Vegas is always right. They are big favorites in this one.

The Winner Is

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Winner USA
3 out of 5

These two teams are so alike, that I see the game going to extra time or even penalties. Both teams should have enough time to re-energize for a hot and humid game in Salvador. Kompany is listed as doubtful and since then the odds dropped from +320 to +270 for the US to win. Big change after the news. It'll be up to the goalies: Tim Howard vs. Thibaut Nicolas. Howard's experience and will to win, will overcome talent in the end.

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