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World Cup

  • July 1, 2014
  • • 4:00 PM
  • • Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Bahia
  • Referee: D. Haïmoudi
  • • Attendance: 51227

World Cup Preview: Belgium - USA

The Red Devils are sweating on the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany, while the Stars and Stripes are monitoring the progress of Jozy Altidore.

Belgium boss Marc Wilmots and USA counterpart Jurgen Klinsmann both have injury concerns ahead of Tuesday's last 16 showdown at Arena Fonte Nova.

The Red Devils are looking particularly threadbare at the back, with Vincent Kompany struggling with a groin problem and Thomas Vermaelen ruled out a hamstring strain.

Anthony Vanden Borre’s tournament has also been ended by a fractured fibia sustained in the win over South Korea but Toby Alderweireld was poised to slot back into the defense at right back anyway, having been rested for his country's final game in Group H.

Elsewhere, Steven Defour is suspended, so Axel Witsel will definitely return in midfield but doubt remains over who will lead the Belgian attack at Arena Fonte Nova.

Wilmots can either persist with the goalless Romelu Lukaku up front or take a chance on Divock Origi, who has come off the bench in his country's three games to date, scoring a late winner in the 1-0 defeat of Russia.

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However, there is also the option of asking Edin Hazard or Kevin Mirallas to serve as a false nine, thus creating more space for another of the Red Devils' many attacking midfielders.

The Americans have their own selection issues up front. The USA lost Jozy Altidore to a hamstring injury just 23 minutes into their tournament opener against Ghana, but he returned to training last week.

Altidore has been declared available for the Belgium clash, though questions remain about whether he will be fit enough to actually take part in the game.

Klinsmann, therefore, must decide whether to recall the Sunderland striker and restore Clint Dempsey to a supporting role - or continue with the latter up front on his own.

Elsewhere, Omar Gonzalez is expected to retain his spot alongside Matt Besler at the back after turning in a fine performance in place of Geoff Cameron in the game against Germany.

However, Alejandro Bedoya could return on the right-hand side of midfield after being cleared of concussion, with Graham Zusi switching to the opposite flank and Brad Davis dropping to the bench.


Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Players to Watch
Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
5 0 1 0
Hazard has played a key role in two of Belgium's three World Cup wins thus far - yet it is fair to say that the Chelsea star has still to truly shine in Brazil. The 23-year-old provided the killer ball for the decisive goals scored by Dries Mertens and Divock Origi in the victories over Algeria and Russia respectively but was relatively subdued in both games. After leaving his most high-profile player on the bench for the game against South Korea, Wilmots will now be hoping a refreshed and refocused Hazard lights up the last-16 clash with USA.
Jermaine Jones
Jermaine Jones
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 13
Games Goals YC RC
4 1 1 0
Jermaine Jones was born in Frankfurt and capped three times by Germany but there is arguably no more committed player in the USA squad. Indeed, while the combative midfielder is now 32, he is currently in the form of his life and has established himself as a real fan favorite with his tenacious tackling and barnstorming breaks forward. His stunning strike in the 2-2 draw with Portugal underlined the threat he carries from an attacking perspective but Klinsmann will be counting on Jones’ defensive diligence to help see USA past a Belgium brimming with attacking talent in midfield.
Belgium was one of only four sides to emerge from the group stage with a 100 percent record – yet the team has been lambasted back home for three uninspiring performances in what was viewed as a relatively weak group. The USA, by contrast, has been widely lauded for deservedly progressing to the last 16 at the expense of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. With the team's drive and doggedness the Americans will most likely make life very difficult for Belgium, but expect Wilmots’ side to be once again bailed out by a moment of brilliance from a member of the stellar squad.
Editor's Prediction

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