Belgium v USA – Dynamo Dempsey To Be On TargetStats
Belgium v USA
Belgium meet the USA in the first knock out round of the World Cup on Tuesday night after both successfully navigated the group phase.
Many tipped Belgium as dark horses in this World Cup and although they won all of their group games to qualify easily, they have yet to really show what they are capable of. Marc Wilmots side struggled in their opening game against Algeria but came from behind to earn a victory with late goals from substitute Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens rifled finish.
Next came the game which looked like it may decide top spot in the group as they clashed with Russia but it was an uninspiring affair which the Red Devils again won late thanks to Divock Origi’s goal. They had qualified then with a game to spare but despite wholesale changes were still good enough to claim a 1-0 win over South Korea and earn a fifth win in a row and fourth clean sheet in five games in the process.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA had a nervy wait to see if they had reached the last 16 as they lost 1-0 to their coaches homeland Germany in their last group game for a first defeat in seven but still went through thanks a better goal difference than Portugal.
Their four points came courtesy of a 2-1 win over Ghana in their first group game and a 2-2 draw with the Portuguese, with both games featuring very late goals which went both for and against the States. They have performed admirably despite a limited squad and fully deserved to reach the latter stages of the tournament with…
…former Fulham hero Clint Dempsey a standout performer with two goals in their three games so far.
Wilmots has a few concerns at the back with both Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany doubtful with hamstring and groin problems respectively. Skipper Kompany would be a particularly big loss for a team that builds from the back, and Steven Defour is suspended following a red card against South Korea.
The Belgium boss is expected to return to the starting XI from the win over Russia though after rotating his squad against the Koreans with qualification already assured.
Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore is expected to miss out on the rest of the tournament with a hamstring problem but Klinsmann has no other suspensions or injuries to worry about.
Belgium lead this category with two wins to one for the States with both of their victories coming in the last three years, most recently in May 2013 when Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas and a brace from Christian Benteke led them to a 4-2 win, with Geoff Cameron and Dempsey responding for the USA. The Americans sole victory in this fixture came in the very first World Cup when they were 3-0 winners.
Although the Belgians haven’t really lived up to their billing, they are a very difficult team to beat and 20/21 odds on a victory for them in 90 minutes here makes sense.
The USA are a team greater than the sum of their parts though and are no pushovers as they’ve already proved at this World Cup and I can see them taking the game to extra-time at least so take the draw at 5/2 with the evergreen Dempsey and Mertens my picks in the goalscorers markets at 15/8 and 2/1 repectively.