Belgium came into the World Cup as a sleeper squad, and despite winning three matches in group play, their play has been a bit sleepy.
Only four nations won all three of their group matches, but Belgium were underwhelming. It has created lots of excitement for American fans and bettors looking to back the United States in the round of 16.
They are the betting favorite facing an American squad that did just enough to advance out of the Group of Death.
Sportsbooks offering World Cup lines had Belgium as the World Cup betting favorite at roughly even odds with the USA at 15-4 to win in regulation and a draw line of 13-5.
Belgium played in one of the weaker groups, and while their attack has looked out of sync, their defense has been great. In group play, they only gave up one goal and that was on a penalty facing Algeria in their World Cup opener.
Where this match on Tuesday will be won is in the midfield. Both squads are solid in that area. The midfield duo of Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones has played well in aiding the USA defense.
Playmaker Michael Bradley has struggled to create scoring chances from that area of the pitch, however.
The Americans played solidly in their 1-0 loss to Germany, but they could not get their attack going. Look for them to play a similar game on defense, but Bradley and Clint Dempsey must pressure the Belgium defense and spearhead the attack.
Belgium’s offense only scored four goals in three group matches as their main offensive weapons, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard, struggled. They need to get on track facing a confident USA back line and keeper Tim Howard, who has been solid so far in the tournament.
While the USA defense has played well, they cannot sit back and simply wait for the counter-attack. That did not work against Germany, and they need to push the envelope on offense to advance.
Belgium will win the time of possession battle and have more scoring chances, but it will be all for not.
Expect the United States to continue their resilient play and to capitalize on chances here.
The Americans will advance to the quarterfinals with a win as the sleeper pick in Belgium never fully awakens in Brazil.
USA vs. Belgium prediction: 1-0 USA
Stats and odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
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