B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: USA Take Aim at Belgium

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

B/R Experts' World Cup Predictions: USA Take Aim at Belgium

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    Bleacher Report's experts were keen not to rest on the laurels of their efforts of last season, so they will go into battle for the whole of the World Cup.

    Each game will feature a score prediction, combined with a Man of the Match selection (based on FIFA's official decision).

    The predictions are in the following slides, and you will be able to chart their success—or lack thereof—for the rest of the tournament on our daily scoreboard.

    Post your own picks on Twitter and include @br_uk. Anyone who gets all scorelines and the Man of the Match awards correct will receive a Bleacher Report goody bag.

Argentina vs. Switzerland

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    Alex Dimond: Argentina 2-1 Switzerland

    Switzerland have the attacking talents, particularly in Xherdan Shaqiri, to cause Argentina's suspect defence some problems, but with Lionel Messi on Argentina's side, they should have enough to get past this test.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    Messi was named Man of the Match in all three of Argentina's group-stage games. It would be foolish to bet against him adding another one here.


    Karl Matchett: Argentina 2-1 Switzerland

    Switzerland's defence is their strong point, and they'll need to be on top form to keep out Argentina, even though the South American side has not yet hit the expected heights. The game doesn't have the feel of a classic about it, but an early goal could open it right up.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    Messi to once again score the goals that keep Argentina progressing.


    Michael Cummings: Argentina 2-1 Switzerland

    I don't think Switzerland are as bad as they looked against France, but I also don't think they'll be able to stop Lionel Messi from making the difference yet again.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    Argentina haven't exactly been impressive, but Messi has done enough to keep them rolling along. I don't see that changing here.


    Sam Tighe: Argentina 3-0 Switzerland

    Switzerland finally clicked into gear against Honduras in the final group game, but Argentina are an entirely different proposition. Neither side has shown its best yet, but I'm backing the Albiceleste to do so here.

    Man of the Match: Lionel Messi

    I expect Messi to put this ailing Swiss defence to the sword with another goal or two and send Switzerland packing.


    Will Tidey: Argentina 2-3 Switzerland

    Call me crazy. Call me whatever you like. But this is my big shock for the last 16. Switzerland will find gaps in the Argentina defence and exploit them. There will be goals aplenty, but the Swiss will edge it.

    Man of the Match: Xherdan Shaqiri

    Shaqiri again to star for the Swiss, ripping Argentina to shreds.

Belgium vs. USA

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    Alex Dimond: Belgium 1-1 USA (USA win on penalties)

    Belgium won all three of their group games, but all three winners came very late in the day. The United States could be an awkward opponent—better organised defensively than anything they have faced so far and equally as dangerous going forward. If Jurgen Klinsmann gets the tactics right, the USA could sneak this one after extra time or on penalties.

    Man of the Match: Tim Howard

    If this game goes to penalties, Howard might end up proving to be the hero of the hour.


    Karl Matchett: Belgium 1-2 USA

    Man for man, the Belgian side has more talent, but it hasn't impressed yet at all. It's worked hard and has options off the bench, but the United States are organised, disciplined and determined. If they score the first goal and have something to hold onto, you suspect they'll sit off and invite pressure. Late on in the game it could be frantic and far more exciting than some of the other round-of-16 games.

    Man of the Match: Kyle Beckerman

    Beckerman has been phenomenal so far, and his all-action style will be important to closing down the attacking midfield line of Belgium.


    Michael Cummings: Belgium 1-1 USA (USA win on penalties)

    OK, so I'm being completely illogical about this one. Belgium have superior talent and more match-changing stars. But the USA have been more than the sum of their parts so far, and I'm hoping the Jurgen Klinsmann magic will continue.

    Man of the Match: Tim Howard

    The longer the USA can stay in this match, the better it will mean Howard has played. Belgium have been dangerous late in matches, so Howard will have to be alert for the full 90 minutes—or maybe even longer.


    Sam Tighe: Belgium 1-1 USA (Belgium win AET)

    Belgium are formidable on paper but beatable on the pitch. The USA were never going to find an easy draw finishing second, but this is ideal. They can sit deep, pack the middle and frustrate the Red Devils, pushing them into extra time.

    Man of the Match: Eden Hazard

    Whose moments of genius have carried this side through the tournament so far? Eden Hazard, and it will continue in that fashion.


    Will Tidey: Belgium 1-1 USA (USA win on penalties)

    This one will be very, very tight. The USA have been really compact and well organised so far. They're more than the sum of their parts; Belgium are the opposite. It goes to pens, and the USA win.

    Man of the Match: Tim Howard

    Howard to put in a "Thou Shalt Not Pass" performance in goal for the Americans.

Updated Standings

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    B/R Expert Picks

    (One point for correct result, three points for correct scoreline, two points for correct Man of the Match.)

    Sam Tighe 85
    Michael Cummings73
    Will Tidey 69
    Karl Matchett 64
    Alex Dimond 56