World Cup 2014 Predictions: Projecting Final Scores for Day 24 Fixtures

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World Cup 2014 Predictions: Projecting Final Scores for Day 24 Fixtures
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The last World Cup quarter-final matches take place on Saturday as three much-fancied teams take to the field.

The early fixture sees Lionel Messi line up against Eden Hazard as Argentina try to hurdle over the challenge of Belgium.

The later kick-off sees Louis van Gaal's Netherlands team, who destroyed world champions Spain in their first match, take on the surprise side of Brazil 2014: Costa Rica. 

Here are the full schedule details of both contests and final score predictions:

World Cup 2014 Day 24 Fixtures and Predictions
Date Match Kick-Off Venue TV Stream Prediction
July 5 Argentina vs. Belgium 5 p.m BST/12 p.m. ET Brasilia ITV/ESPN2 ITV Website/ESPN Player 3-1
July 5 Netherlands vs. Costa Rica 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET Salvador BBC One/ESPN BBC Website/ESPN Player 2-1

Belgian Form Not Good Enough

Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

Before the World Cup began, many pundits were catching Belgian eyes and flirting profusely.

Some felt Hazard and company would be the surprise of the tournament and that they had a squad with sufficient depth even to win the famous gold trophy.

Indeed, Belgium have made their way to the last eight in a comfortable fashion, but without really impressing along the way. 

Now they run into an Argentina side motivated to take glory on their most hated of rivals' home soil. Additionally, World Cup glory would arguably cement Messi's status as the greatest footballer in the history of the sport.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Belgians will pose questions of Argentina, with Romelu Lukaku, Divock Origi and Dries Mertens all boasting plenty of pace in attack. But whether they can drag themselves from their relative malaise to improve and beat them is another question.

In reality, Argentina's performances have not been much better than Belgium's over the past few weeks ,but they have a pedigree that the Europeans do not possess.

And they have Messi. 

The South Americans have looked confused at times in the competition. Angel Di Maria, so potent for Real Madrid last season, continually conceded possession in his country's round-of-16 match against Switzerland before inexplicably scoring the winning goal at the death in extra time.

It was typical of the Argentina we have witnessed at the tournament. Messi's team currently seem too reliant on his brilliance when they have a wide range of quality in their ranks.

Ian Herbert of The Independent tweeted about Rafa Benitez's thoughts on this point, the Napoli coach believing the onus is too focused on the Barcelona star:

Despite the focus on Messi, it is prudent to think that Belgium in their current form will not be able to dispose of Argentina. The reliance on Messi is indeed too much, but defensively Belgium may not be able to stop him, even with the brilliant Vincent Kompany at centre-back.

However, if Hazard and his team-mates can raise their game and find a set of gears that have not been present in the past weeks, there could be a shock result―but this is the most unlikely of outcomes.

Prediction: Argentina win 3-1

Arjen Robben to Dance Past Costa Rica

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It is not as if we do not know what Arjen Robben does, and it is not that opponents of the Bayern Munich speed merchant do not know what he is capable of. 

But the fact remains that sometimes you just cannot stop him.

Robben has taken his longstanding brilliant club form to the Netherlands camp at the World Cup, and he does not look like going into decline anytime soon.

The world-class attacker has had an excellent time in Brazil so far and has hit three goals, putting him in contention for an unlikely opportunity of winning the Golden Boot, per Squawka.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

He has shown his form against much tougher defences than Costa Rica's, and it is questionable as to whether they have the capacity to stop him.

Costa Rica will once again be hoping that their attacking attributes dictate their destiny, and they do indeed have a great chance of scoring in the quarter-final. Their quality from wide areas has been particularly impressive in the competition.

But with Robben and Robin van Persie both showing signs of their best, it is hard to see how their opponents can win the match in normal time.

Will Arjen Robben win the Golden Boot?

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Costa Rica's best opportunity will be to take the contest to extra time and penalties, but it is unlikely that Louis van Gaal's men will let this happen.

There is every chance the match will be closer than many think, but ultimately it will be the Netherlands who prevail and march on to play Argentina in the semis.

Prediction: Netherlands win 2-1

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