World Cup 2014: Fixtures, Match Odds, Predictions, Updated Bracket for Day 24

Stuart Newman@@StuNewmanSportFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2014

PORTO SEGURO, BRAZIL - JUNE 12:  A replica of the FIFA world cup trophy is displayed during the Group A match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12, 2014 in Porto Seguro, Brazil.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Thirty-two teams began World Cup 2014 with lofty dreams of lifting the famous trophy in Brazil come July 13. Now, though, just four will remain after Day 24's action as the last semi-final berths are decided.

Germany and Brazil booked their respective places in the last four on Day 23, thanks to narrow victories against France and Colombia, respectively, and it's now up to Argentina, Belgium, Netherlands and Costa Rica to attempt to follow suit.

We've seen some quite remarkable matches and stories unfold in this year's tournament, and with the climax now within sight, let's hope that the drama continues.

World Cup 2014 Day 24 Odds and Predictions
MatchupsHome Win OddsDraw OddsAway Win OddsPrediction
Argentina vs. Begium57-5023-103-11-0
Netherlands vs. Costa Rica53/100321-100165-252-0
OddsShark

B/R

 

Argentina vs. Belgium

Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

Kicking Day 24 off are two sides that have been heavily backed to go all the way in Brazil. Argentina and Belgium haven't quite got going between them, though, and they both require a big step up in Brasilia.

However, one man who just needs to keep doing what he's been doing is Lionel Messi, who's been his usual, sensational self in Brazil.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

With four goals and an assist, Messi has proved to be the difference in all of Argentina's fixtures so far and has finally taken his club form to the international stage—impressing former England striker Gary Lineker in the process:

The Barcelona star is bound to be the difference in the Brazilian capital once again, but Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen believes that his side can handle the threat of the 27-year-old—reported by FIFA.com:

"I think Messi has been outstanding so far in this tournament. He has been their main man. But if we defend like we did in our previous matches we will stop him, (Sergio) Aguero, (Angel) Di Maria and (Gonzalo) Higuain. I'm convinced of that."

Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

The Belgians have kept three clean sheets in normal time in their four World Cup matches so far, and one more could see them progress to the semi-finals for just the second time in their history.

However, the task of silencing Messi for the duration is one that borders impossibility, and the maestro may once again have the last laugh for Argentina.

It's bound to be another tight match that could go either way, but with Messi firing on all cylinders, the Argentinians have a slender advantage.

Prediction: Argentina 1-0 Belgium

 

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 29: Keylor Navas of Costa Rica is swarmed by teammates in celebration after defeating Greece in a penalty shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Costa Rica and Greece at Arena Pernambuco on June 29,
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The next stop on Costa Rica's remarkable journey is Salvador, where the Central Americans take on Netherlands for a place in the last four.

Jorge Luis Pinto's side have come into every World Cup match as underdogs, but they've risen to the occasion and are now just 90 minutes away from the semi-finals.

No one expected the Costa Ricans to perform so admirably, least of all Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton, who found them taking the lead against Uruguay in their opening match rather humorous:

There's nothing funny about the way that they've played, though, and the Netherlands will need to make sure they don't underestimate their opponents on Day 24.

Though Costa Rica have already made history by reaching the last eight, star man Bryan Ruiz says that his nation is hungry for more—per FIFA.com:

"Maybe in a few months this will all sink in, but for right now we're just trying to enjoy what we're living. We have nothing to lose. We've come so far and done so much, but we want more. We want to continue on and see how far this can go."

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 29:  Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Costa Rica and Greece at Arena Pernambuco on June 29, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walto
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Continuing their dream run will take a monumental effort against the Dutch, though, who are looking to reach back-to-back finals.

The Netherlands' group-stage performances were nothing short of superb, disposing of Spain, Australia and Chile with minimal fuss to top Group B.

However, they needed to perform a minor miracle in the round of 16 against Mexico, coming from 1-0 down with just two minutes of normal time remaining to win 2-1.

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 29:  Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of the Netherlands celebrates scoring his team's second goal with a penalty kick in stoppage time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Netherlands and Mexico at Castelao on June
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Their courage and heart has been clear for all to see, and with star man Arjen Robben in the international form of his life, the semi-finals could await for the Dutch.

Vastly superior in terms of personnel, the Netherlands just need to get their tactics right to triumph over Costa Rica, and with Louis van Gaal at the helm, that's a near certainty.

Prediction: Netherlands 2-0 Costa Rica