The World Cup’s round of 16 ends Tuesday with two matches (all times EDT):
– Argentina vs. Switzerland in Sao Paulo, noon, ESPN
– United States vs. Belgium in Salvador, 4 p.m., ESPN
At stake: Winners will play in the quarterfinals on Saturday at noon in Brasilia.
Argentina vs. Switzerland
La Albiceleste is looking for some semblance of balance after being carried into the round of 16 by Lionel Messi, who has scored four of Argentina’s six goals (and one of their other goals came off an own goal). Coach Alejandro Sabella told the Associated Press that he strikers have perhaps been moving a little too fast. “Sometimes we get stretched out because we have strikers who are very fast,” he said. “I think in modern football it’s important that teams remain compact, that the distance between defenders and strikers is as short as possible, and that’s what we’re going to try to achieve.” The Swiss have defensive problems of their own, especially after Steve von Bergen left the tournament after breaking his cheekbone in a 5-2 group-stage loss to France.
United States vs. Belgium
U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has one more weapon at his disposal as Jozy Altidore will be available to return after straining his hamstring in the team’s World Cup opener. Djamel Haimoudi, an Algerian, has been appointed the referee of the match by FIFA, leading Klinsmann to question the fairness of the move: Haimoudi will be able to speak French to some of the Belgian players, and the United States knocked out Algeria from the World Cup in 2010. Belgium, which has conceded just one goal (a penalty kick) at the World Cup, is looking for its first quarterfinal bid since 1986, when it lost to Argentina in the semifinals.
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