1. S

    Now the real game begins!

  2. R

    Welcome to the beautiful game.

    Also Enzou go get some sleep dammit

  3. Too wired for the moment… Soon.

    Not much of a beautiful game today, but it is what it is. Belgium? They'll be favored, and they should be. But that's winnable.

  4. M

    Dude you would have thought the US won the game the way they were cheering for their team. Well, Im happy with the 1:0. KO-phase against Belgium and Algeria I guess.

  5. t

    indeed it was close, but they made it fair and square despite losing to Germany. USA were really good against Ghana and Portugal. they deserve a place in the next round.
    Germany is the better team, still USA performed OK. that last counter attack in the end…so close to tie the score.
    I think both teams didn't play their best today, but it was enough for them to make it to next round (in the end Germany won..well always trust Muller or someone to make the difference. that's what it is). I am sure it's gonna be different in the knockout levels.

    USA will probably face Belgium which is a good and dangerous team. but they can definitely do it! they did so well against Portugal.
    Germany on the other hand will get an easier opponent.

    oh and…good night Enzo. at least it ended up good (:

  6. The more I think about it, the more I'd like to see Yedlin start the Belgium game. I think he can hurt that team.

  7. m

    Do you really think Belgium will be favored? And should be? Ranking wise 11 is no different than 13 as we saw in the biters bracket where ranks 7,9,10 all played each other tight. Plus Belgium was in the easiest of all of the groups and barely pulled out a win against each opponent (ranked 19/22/57). There wasn't one point during any of their games where they showed me that they were a team deserving of respect or fear. Not only that, but we have been playing against 3 top teams, competing with all of them, scoring the same amount of goals as Belgium against tougher teams. Sure Ghana's pre WC rank was lower than Algeria/Russia, but that was due to their young age and frankly Ghana looked better than a lot of the other teams in the WC. This isn't a case of us being a lock to beat Belgium, but it is a case of we should beat them and it would be a failure if we didn't. We may have been outplayed by Germany, but they were trying their hardest and if it wasn't for 2 bad misses at the end of the game, we would have tied arguably the best team in the world right now. Howard isn't someone you can get an easy goal against. And we'll have a lot more fans there than Belgium will. Maybe I'm being a bit of a homer saying all of that, but there's no way that Belgium is deserving of being favored, at least not by any % that matters. No European team has ever won the world cup in a South American nation, and with the exception of the Netherlands and Germany there's no European team who've been playing better than we have.

  8. Belgium will absolutely be favored, and absolutely should be. They were the #5 betting choice to win the whole thing going in, and despite playing far below their top form they won all three games. They're not on all cylinders, but comparing the individual skill levels between their players and the Americans is night and day – Belgium has a ton of quality.

    Five Thirty Eight (Nate Silver's website) has been handicapping the whole tournament, and they have Belgium as a 59-41 favorite. That sounds about right to me. There are certainly worse teams we could have drawn in the second round, so I'm pleased with the matchup – but realistic. I actually think we would have a decent chance against Argentina if we do win (the US has tended to struggle most against teams that match their physicality, like Northern European teams tend to) and I'm not even fully convinced Argentina will beat Switzerland. They should, but Argentina is overrated and the Swiss are underrated.

  9. S

    Belgium is absolutely the favorite. They currently have a golden generation with half the squad consisting of Premier League players. Even we in the Netherlands, who have always considered the Belgian team as inferior (and rightfully so!), are a little bit jealous of the amount of quality they harbor at the moment. They’re especially strong on defense, which is going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome for the US (and any other team). They have Kompany, the captain of Manchester City and Courtois, already one of the best goalkeepers in the world who won the Primera Division and reached the Champions League Final with Atletico Madrid. I think if Belgium scores the first goal, the game is over.

    But to give some hope for the US: They use center backs at full back positions who aren’t really comfortable there, mostly on offense, and they’re quite inexperienced at this stage, not having participated in any major tournament since 2002. Their weakest point I’d say is the coach, who gets a lot of criticism for his starting line-up and tactical choices. It sometimes seems he doesn’t really know how to make a great team from so many excellent players, which I think is the reason why they’re not playing that great (yet).

  10. m

    I don't think the swiss are overrated. They were ranked 6th in the world coming into the tourney, and anyone overlooking them is due to their own play during the group stage.

    I find that crazy that Belgium, who was ranked 11th goin into the WC, could be picked as the #5 betting choice. To me all that says its that people betting are biased, think they'll win more on more of a long shot, or don't know anything about world soccer. Even if they beat us, Belgium is going nowhere in this tourney. If you get an easy bracket you need to show up in it like Columbia did. Plus like I said, no European team has ever won a WC in a South American nation, and it certainly won't be Belgium. Even saying Nate Silver, who btw is an amazing statistician but what does that have to do with soccer, picked them 59-41 is like I said hardly any different. When you say favored I thought you were saying odds along the lines of 3:1 or 4:1. All that aside they aren't winning, so it's irrelevant.

    @Sylpher haha I don't want to hear "we're jealous" by the team who has Van Persie and who's played better than almost anyone at the WC so far. You guys may have come in ranked low, but given the last few WC performances I'd say you have nothing to complain about. Having EPL players means nothing btw. Japan has EPL players and look at them, or Spain and their slew of Barcelona/Real Madrid players who didn't show up to play. Howard is better than Courtois without question, and not just WC play but general overall club pla as well. If Beligium was that good they would've won a game by more than 1 goal against their 3 easy opponents. They only beat South Korea (57th in the world) by 1 goal in a game where all of the pressure was on South Korea. Aside from names of players who are good in club play but haven't done anything in the WC, tell me one reason why Belgium should be favored? Tell me one thing they did that was impressive at the WC? At least Argentina has Messi singlehandedly winning games for them, and at his skill level that's always a threat. Though if the Swiss show up to play like they did in their last game, it could be a tough one. Still if the Netherlands or Germany don't win it all then no Europen team will. Well maybe France has a long shot, but it's unlikely.

  11. You're putting way too much stock in those computer rankings, which are usually wildly inaccurate. Is Portugal really the 4th best team in the world? You tell me. The betters are actually a much better gauge, because when it's their money at stake they're not going to be swayed by anything but practical greed. Belgium is a bettor's favorite because, as Sylpher said, they have great individual talent. They have quality in attack and defense, creativity, and a strong keeper.

    If we have a chance and they a weakness, it's what Sylpher says – their coach and their fullbacks. Wilmots is iffy, and while Jurgen is no tactical genius he's certainly capable of outcoaching him. Their fullbacks out of position and are vulnerable to speed, which is why I'd like to se Yedlin start and he and Fabian Johnson run down the wings all days long. It's the best chance we have.

  12. m

    I guess were going to have to agree to disagree here. I don't trust betters as I've known tons of people who bet on sports over the years and they all get it wrong so often. Even Vegas odds on football and events like the Superbowl are almost always wrong. I'm not saying Belgium lacks talented players, but as you saw with Spain it doesn't matter if they don't show up. And Belgium's stars haven't shown me anything yet to make me consider them a team to fear, or that they're better than the US team.

    More than seeing Yedlin in there, I'd like to see Bradly out. He's shown that he can't handle being the guy on the world stage and he is doing nothing but hurting us with his bad passes, receives, and lack of accurate shooting. If anything I'd like to see Johnson take his role over as he's shown a much cleaner first touch, accurate passing, and has dominated the transition game on his side.

  13. Bradley has also run more than anyone else in the tournament (an official stat, not an opinion) and actually has one of the higher completion percentages on his passes of anyone on the US team. He's not at his best but he's not going anywhere – Klinsmann said so quite specifically yesterday.

    It's also worth nothing that the US team has given up more shots than any team in the field, and has one of the lowest possession rates. And Belgium, despite playing at what's universally agreed is far from their best, won every one of their games. The only goal they surrendered was on a questionable penalty. Certainly if the two teams had been in different groups those numbers would skew a little differently, but they shouldn't be ignored.

  14. m

    You're right, Bradley hasn't played as bad as what I;ve said would lead someone to believe. But his pass % is higher based off of the many times he has passed it backwards to wide open back line players. Also on many completed passes he was off and it stopped the run or at least slowed it down which is a huge problem. He has run a lot because he plays a position that few play. Not many CM play that far back and that far up. He is supposed to be the transition from defense to offense, and he hasn't performed well during important moments. He's missed shots, lost challenges, and made poor first touches. In fairness to him, teams have been focusing on him seeing as his role is so important, and that has freed up Johnson and Zusi to start runs and just made their job easier overall. But Klinsmann coming out and saying he won't sit Bradley is proof that he isn't playing as well as someone who has is role needs to play. If you want to be the "general" you need to step your game up when it's crunch time.

    I'm not overlooking Belgium, I'm saying that calling Belgium a heavy favorite is overlooking the US. Even if you don't choose to go by the ranks, our were similar and it was FIFA choosing them (betting would likely have followed this closely before the WC started). Obviously the ranks will change after the WC ends. Belgium has showed nothing to make anyone think they can win it all. Too many teams have tons of top club players for anyone to think Belgium is the best on paper. They barely won against mediocre opponents, some of which only got in based on the qualifying group they happened to be in. They haven't played horribly either, but what matters is results. Having played 3 games vs tough teams each with certain results being necessary gives us an advantage in an elimination game over a team who had an easy group stage and didn't play anywhere close to the level they are capable of. That's no guaranteed win for the US, but objectively speaking I'd rather have faced the pressure and won out than to have not faced pressure and done mediocre. If both teams played their best the game would still be a toss up, but people are acting like as long as Belgium plays their best that its over, and that isn't the case.

    I hate saying this after they won already (though I've been high on them since before the WC started) but I think Columbia is winning it all. They've been the only top 10 team who has played lights out in every game so far. Netherlands looked weak against Australia, Germany didn't look dominate against the US or Ghana, Brazil looked bad vs a Chile team who seemed to be playing for a shootout and Mexico looked better than them during their tie, Argentina is way too reliant on Messi singlehandedly scoring goals (3/4 were all by himself), the Swiss were trounced by France, Uruguay got demolished by Columbia, and the three teams 11-13 Greece/US/Belgium haven't looked anywhere near the level Columbia has. Columbia trounced their two toughest opponents Greece/Uruguay(even without suarez are still a solid team). Columbia has won their 4 games by a total of 9 goals, and only once had a 1 goal difference. Not to mention James Rodriguez (who btw is only 22) has played as well, if not better, than anyone in the WC so far scoring 5 goals in 4 games, and a goal in every single game (2 in the 90th min). His first goal vs Uruguay was one of the best, if not the best, of the WC. They're going to be hard to beat.

    I think it plays out like this: Columbia (over Brazil) vs Germany (over france) and Mexico (over costa rice) vs. Argentina (over the US). Colombia vs Argentina in the final. Germany wins the 3rd place game and Columbia wins it all. I know Mexico beating the Netherlands is a huge if, but I think they get their revenge for last WC.

  15. m

    I know Mexico beating the Netherlands is a bit of a stretch, but I think they can do it, and if we got EXTREMELY lucky we could play them in the semis. Our only elimination round victory in WC history is against them. Likely because we know them so well that anything can happen when we play each other. I don't see anyone beating Columbia though. I think the curse of European teams being unable to win a WC in South America continues.

  16. I thought Chile played very well in that Brazil game, actually – it had its lulls in the second half and extra time but it was a vastly entertaining match. Chile created quite a few chances, and came within six inches of winning the game in the final minute.

  17. m

    Yeah that last counter was good, and they played phenomenal defense, but they really seemed to be playing for the shootout or at best for the occasional counter. It's not that they played bad, but that they were focusing on tying more than winning, and with the way Brazil was playing (and how they were playing) I feel like they should've won that game and would've if they attacked. Unfortunately for me Brazil won, I can't stand their team.

    Mexico was winning until just now.

  18. m

    BTW talk about crappy luck for watching the world cup. You are on the worst part of the world for the timing of these games. It didn't even occur to me until I saw this post that you've been watching these games really late. Though it's probably been worth it.

  19. So far the higher-ranked team in SPI, ELO, and 538 projections has won every elimination game. Ominous for the US, though according to those rankings their game with Belgium is the matchup with the narrowest gap (along with the CR-Greece game).

  20. m

    True, but Greece this round has hardly any legit matchups. Columbia was never going to lose their game, Brazil snuck by after looking weak against a Chile team who on paper shouldn't have been that much of a challenge, Netherlands only won based on an atrocious call that should cost the ref his WC refereeing career, and Greece as I mentioned has been shit. How do you lose, or even let it go to a shoot out when you play for an hour with an extra man? Costa Rica's GK and back line played phenomenal soccer today. Mexico admittedly wasn't looking to good after giving up the equalizer anyway, but for that game to end the way it did was a disgrace. Robbin took a dive, which in my eyes tarnishes his reputation. You don't often see top players get cheap like that, but it's the one thing that's always bothered me about soccer. The call was pathetic to begin with, let alone the fact that it happened with 2 mins left in the game. You can't make that call and essentially decide the outcome on your own. And he gave him an unnecessary yellow, banning their captain from the next game should they have been able to win, and when he got called out for it he carded another player. What a disgraceful performance by the ref. If I was a Netherlands fan, I'd definitely take the win however I got it, but I would certainly lose respect for Robbin for that bs. It's going to be a difficult loss to swallow for Mexico. Losing on merit late game is hard, but you can accept it. Everything I've experienced in playing and watching sports my whole life is that losing based on something like a referee decision is so hard to get passed.

    The only legitimate competition in this first round is US-Belgium and Argentina-Switz and that's IF the Swiss play like they did in their last game. You definitely aren't wrong in mentioning those stats, but it is misleading. There's a reason the gaps are much different in the US-Belgium game. Hopefully we don't see a full set of wins by the favorite.

    BTW how incredible have these games been so far?! 2/4 shootouts 1/4 ending in extra time and only the 1 game being a blowout. I know 2-0 isn't a blowout per se, but Columbia dominated that game, and I don't see any team out there being able to stop them. 2 goals allowed in 4 games, a +9 goal difference in those games, and beating the two opponents who made the elimination round by a combined 5-0. Rodriguez is nasty, and they haven't had to rely on him alone like Argentina has with Messi. They're basically Germany/Netherlands but without having show any signs of weakness. Not in play style mind you, but as far as how they've scored and won.

  21. I'll tell you what – Robben earned a legit penalty at least once before that, and probably twice (and he actually was fouled twice in the box on the first one). Mexico should have had a penalty too of course, on the kick to the head. The thing about the one at the end was, Robben was fouled in the box. Marquez stomped on his foot. Did Robben embellish? Sure – but Mexican players were diving all day too. It was a penalty, by rule. The real headline is that Marquez was incredibly stupid to put himself in that position, but that's his history – he makes bonehead decisions at key moments. Holland endured 38 degree heat with 70% humidity and physically pressed the action for the entire second half. They aren't artistic but they're gritty and extremely dangerous, with arguably the most relentless and skilled forward in the field. And they'll feel fated to win after this game. They should certainly handle CR.

    As for CR, they were very lucky to survive after that red – if you look at the stats, Greece completely dominated the game. Think about that – completely dominated by Greece, a team that would park the bus against Momayama Predators. I don't care if you're down a man or not, that's not a good sign.

  22. m

    I'm not claiming Mexico didn't do it also, and that Robbin wasn't fouled before and didn't get the call, I'm saying that means nothing. Is your point that if you don't get a call you should then you deserve to cheat to get a call next time? Or that if the other team tries to cheat that it's now no longer bad if you cheat? My, albeit limited, knowledge of Robbin was that he was a classy player with respect for the game, who plays the right way, and this completely ruined that. When the chips were down he took the easy way out. Mexico never has had a great reputation, but that doesn't mean this wasn't unfair to them, and and unfortunate way to end one of the better matches of the WC.

    Yeah CR was never going anywhere. I was just saying the GK and back line play was outstanding being a man down for over an hour. Not that CR dominated the attack, but that they dominated on defense considering being a man down. The winner of Netherlands/Mexico was always going to the semis, and likely to the finals.

  23. m

    Though no one is beating Columbia.

  24. As I said in the post, he was fouled on the play where he got the penalty. Marquez stepped on his foot in the box. That's a foul. Blame Marquez, not Robben.

  25. m

    I'll concede that there was contact, but not enough to throw his arms out a go flying as he did, and certainly not enough to warrant a yellow card and a penalty kick
    "At the same time I have to apologize in the first half I took a dive and I really shouldn't do that." He admitted to diving in the game, and it makes it tough to not think he exaggerated on that play as well. It should be noted that embellishment on a foul is also something that can get you a card, Marquez didn't deserve a yellow, Robben did. It doesn't have to change your (or anyone's) opinion of him, but I had always thought he wasn't the type of player who did that. But it changed my previously high opinion of the man, and arguing that Marquez made contact (which he clearly did put his leg in front of both of Robben's legs) won't change my opinion of how he reacted to it. Even though he was fouled, that doesn't excuse the theatrics and he should have at least been warned about it after. In hindsight that call will always be made because it was a foul on Robben and because of Marquez's reputation for committing awful fouls in international play. It just is an unfortunate way for that game to end, and an unfortunate display from someone I had held a lot of respect for.

  26. It's ironic you should say this changed your opinion of Robben, because he's had a reputation as a big-time diver for years.

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