Argentina v. Switzerland will be a fascinating battle between a nation that was ranked as one of the best going into the 2014 World Cup (and not just for fancy, MacGyver-approved pocket knives) and the country next door to host nation Brazil led by one of the best footballers on the planet in Lionel Messi.
Both nations have played well enough to advance to the round of 16, but neither has necessarily dazzled with respect to the astronomical expectations each had entering the group competition. Can Xherdan Shaqiri make that definitive declaration to the world that Switzerland is no longer a force of neutrality, but a force to be reckoned with? Will Lionel Messi finally reveal a world-class performance he’s fully capable of against a highly-rated opponent during the sport’s biggest tournament while wearing baby blue and white?
The bottom line is that this match will be fun to watch.
Belgium v. United States is a rematch of a friendly most Americans have wanted to forget. The Belgians defeated the men in red, white and blue in a convincing 4-2 effort in Cleveland, Ohio back in May of this year. However, that was a friendly and the Americans proved to be anything but friendly to their World Cup adversaries in their three group matches. Since the Portugal game ended in a heart-breaking 2-2 tie, this game versus Belgium in the round of 16 is the U.S.’s statement game. And if Jozy Altidore makes it onto the pitch, it’s a fair bet he’ll be looking to make a statement or two of his own…
And that pregame speech for the Americans may go a little something like this:
“I Believe That We Will Win!”