Lionel Messi will be back on show at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on Day 20 as his Argentina side look to claim a quarter-final spot when they play Switzerland in the last 16.
As well as that match in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, Salvador plays host to the final encounter of the first knockout round when the USA take on Belgium.
The victors of these two encounters will go on to play each other in the last eight and take one step closer to World Cup glory.
Read on for full predictions for both games on Day 20 as well as live streaming and television information.
|Time (BST/ET)||Fixtures||TV Info||Live Stream||Prediction|
|5 p.m./Noon||Argentina vs. Switzerland||BBC1/ESPN||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player||3-2|
|9 p.m./4 p.m.||Belgium vs. USA||BBC1/ESPN||BBC iPlayer/ESPN Player||0-1|
Argentina vs. Switzerland
Messi has certainly been the star man for Argentina so far—bagging four goals in three games—but without him, they would be struggling.
The last-16 game against the Swiss is the moment when other top players like Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain need to step up to the plate and provide some support for the Barcelona maestro.
While Messi is good enough to effectively win the game by himself, he cannot have a stormer in every match and he needs backing up, per football writer Rafael Hernandez:
That aside, I wouldn't be surprised if Switzerland knock Argentina out this coming Tuesday. Messi can't possibly defend besides attacking.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) June 30, 2014
Because of Argentina's attacking threat, Switzerland will look to be defensive. However, their back line has been suspect so far—they conceded five against France—and if Messi et al can breach it early, the game could really open up.
In Xherdan Shaqiri and Josip Drmic to name but two, Switzerland are not without attacking threat, per WhoScored.com:
Josip Drmic: Created more clear-cut goalscoring chances in a match (3 vs Honduras) than any other player has at the 2014 World Cup #sui— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 26, 2014
It could be a high-scoring game in Sao Paulo, but Argentina should just edge the encounter as they have greater quality in their side.
Belgium vs. USA
The USA will be high on confidence ahead of the game against Belgium, having made it through such a tough group.
The Americans have already arguably overperformed in Brazil, but they are perfect proof that a good team spirit can make a side better than the sum of their parts.
That is not to say that Jurgen Klinsmann's side do not have quality players—Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard are top class—and their defensive play has thus far been impressive, per ESPN's Andrew Lewellen:
But the most important weapon they have at their disposal is their unity and drive to perform above their collective ability.
This could be enough to overcome a Belgium team who have, conversely, arguably underperformed despite winning all three of their group games—but only very narrowly.
Eden Hazard is the key attacking threat for the Belgians, and he needs to be at his best if he is to inspire his team to victory and a place in the last eight—and he says he is ready, per Goal:
I’m ready to emulate Messi, Neymar & James – Hazard http://t.co/L7KzBT6dwB— Goal (@goal_intl) June 30, 2014
However, the US look to have the team to cause a significant upset in Salvador on Tuesday and book themselves a place in the quarter-finals.