World Cup 2014 - A look ahead at USA v Belgium

Published Monday, June 30, 2014 3:48 PM by Shane Barrow

The US men did it.  They survived the Group of Death with a win a loss and a draw.  Much respect!  But things don't get any easier at all.  A very talented Belgium awaits on Tuesday afternoon in a round of 16 match.  Just what should we expect and be looking for in this clash?

Belgium - The  winners of Group H swept through with three wins from three.  None of the three wins could be termed impressive  by any means.  They played in by far the weakest grouping and won each match in the final twenty minutes of play.  Belgium let all three teams hang around.  There are definitely some issues surrounding the side as Vincent Kompany is a doubt due to injury, Vermaelen is out, Vanden Borre is out and striker Romelu Lukaku has not been sharp in Brazil.

United States - Battle tested.  Three stressful matches in the Group of Death could lead to tired legs though as Klinsmann has not been able to rotate the roster very much.  Jermaine Jones, Bradley, Beasley,  Fabian Johnson and Beckerman have logged every minute so far.  Expect that American drive and desire to be on full display though.

Michael Bradley - the US has to have more from him in the offensive half.  Defensively he has been as good as ever.  Bradley tackles, covers ground and wins balls at a world class level.  Unfortunately, his skills in the attack have been less than impressive in Brazil.  Too many errant passes and poor touches.  If Bradley performs the Americans win.  If the Bradley we have seen in Brazil shows up Tuesday it will be a dogfight.

Eden Hazard - simply put, he is the key to Belgium.  He will be the best player on the pitch Tuesday and the Americans must slow him down.  Hazard can win a match all by himself.  He has that flair and ability.  Stop him and The Belgium attack will sputter.

USA Possession - the key to the whole match.  To be successful on Tuesday the US simply must have more offensive possession.  They cannot sit back for 90 minutes and invite Belgium forward.  Bradley, Beckerman and Jermaine Jones have to hold onto the ball and get Dempsey and the wingers into the game in the offensive third.

Predictions - This is going to be a tight affair.  If Hazard takes over 2-1 Belgium.  If the US can get on the ball more 2-1 USA.