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World Cup 2014: Day 20 - open thread


Phil Walter

Tuesday marks the final day of 2014 World Cup round of 16 action, before a couple of days of much-needed respite. In the opening fixture, Lionel Messi Argentina take on the potential banana skin that is Switzerland, before the United States look to cause an upset against Belgium and progress into the quarterfinals for only the second time in their history.

Today's games

Argentina vs. Switzerland, São Paulo, 12:00 ET/17:00 UK

Argentina haven't been great at the World Cup so far, with coach Alejandro Sabella still seemingly scratching his head over how to get his team of outstanding individuals functioning as a cohesive whole. The result has been three narrow victories against pretty average sides, and an Argentina team that doesn't presently look like a serious challenger. However, when you've got Lionel Messi, you've always got a chance. And a good one at that. Switzerland are a talented young team, but their shaky defence will come under serious fire against Argentina, and will probably buckle.

Belgium vs. United States, Salvador, 16:00 ET/21:00 UK

Belgium are another team to have underwhelmed at the World Cup so far. For all of their attacking creativity, the Red Devils have struggled to break down disciplined defences. They shouldn't have quite as big a problem against the United States, who aren't really the type of team to stay compact and deep for 90 minutes, though this game could be a little less predictable than you'd imagine.

Today's United connections

There are no United connections in match number one, but some on both sides in the day's second game. United's Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Januzaj are both at the disposal of Belgium coach Marc Wilmots -- though unfortunately it wouldn't be a surprise if only the former featured against the USA -- while the apparent soon-to-be-United defender Thomas Vermaelen also would be involved if fit. For the USMNT, ex-United goalkeeper Tim Howard will start between the sticks.

Other stuff

Your correspondent has written big previews for both of today's games: Argentina vs. Switzerland and Belgium vs. the United States. There's also a lot more over at SB Nation Soccer, so be sure to check out the coverage over there throughout the day.

How to watch

If you're in the U.K., you'll find both games on the BBC. Across the Atlantic, ESPN and Univison have the games in the USA, while CBC have them in Canada. All have streaming options available. For other countries, check LiveSoccerTV.