U.S. is eliminated, but the World Cup quarterfinals are still worth watching


Arjen Robben and the Netherlands face Costa Rica on Saturday. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Sure, you may be a bit heartbroken after Team USA’s 2-1 loss in extra time to Belgium on Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on the rest of the World Cup. There’s still plenty of amazing soccer to see, with the tournament’s best games ahead. With only eight teams still alive, here’s a primer to get you ready to tune in to the quarterfinal matches this holiday weekend.

France vs. Germany

Friday, noon, ESPN2
Yes, this is your chance to get in all your World War II jokes. Done? Good. This battle between traditional European powers could be one to remember. France is firing on all cylinders, but it hasn’t faced a team nearly as good as Germany yet in this tournament.
Key matchup: France’s Mathieu Valbuena vs. Germany’s Benedikt Howedes. France’s diminutive right winger constantly drifted inside to escape Nigerian defenders, but don’t be surprised to see him stay wide in this match to isolate one-on-one against Howedes, arguably Germany’s weak link.

Brazil vs. Colombia

Friday, 4 p.m., ESPN
Colombia has probably been the most dominant team at the World Cup thus far, which could be troublesome for the host nation. Also against Brazil: Nine of the last 10 teams to win in extra time lost their next game (Brazil beat Chile on penalty kicks in the Round of 16).
Key matchup: Colombia’s James Rodriguez vs. Brazil’s Luiz Gustavo. Rodriguez has made himself a household name with five goals in his first four games in the World Cup. Gustavo, on the other hand, is Kyle Beckerman minus the hair in Brazil’s midfield — he does the dirty work and lets Neymar do his thing.

Argentina vs. Belgium

Saturday, noon, ABC
The stories of these two teams in the World Cup are remarkably similar. They both came in with high expectations, won their group games unconvincingly and were taken to extra time in the Round of 16. Can either of them finally get out of third gear?
Key matchup: Belgium’s Eden Hazard vs. Argentina’s Pablo Zabaleta. Belgium’s talented left winger is a wizard with a ball at his feet, but he doesn’t like to track back defensively. Will Zabaleta stay home at right back to keep an eye on Hazard, or will he try to capitalize on Hazard’s lack of defensive diligence and bomb forward?

Costa Rica vs. Netherlands

Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN
Now that the U.S. is gone, Los Ticos are the last CONCACAF nation standing. They face a Dutch side that many think shouldn’t be here after Arjen Robben earned a controversial penalty in stoppage time to beat Mexico, another CONCACAF side.
Key matchup: Robben vs. the refs. Mexico’s Rafa Marquez should have known better when he stuck a foot out in Robben’s general vicinity, but the notorious flopper even outdid himself when he fell over like he’d been shot. Don’t be surprised if the referee is slower to give him the benefit of the doubt Saturday.

 

Earlier World Cup stories:

World Cup 2014: Group-by-group breakdown after each team’s first two games

Four things that have to happen for the U.S. to get out of the Group of Death

Group-by-group breakdown: Favorites, sleepers and predictions

Things to say to make it sound like you know something about soccer

What your beer says about your World Cup tastes

express

express

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read

express

express

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Jason Butt · July 2, 2014