Considering the talent that Marc Wilmots has at his disposal, many had Belgium down as the tournament’s dark horses, yet despite three wins from three, his team has been for the most part a disappointment. Leading some to believe that the USMNT just might be able to cause an upset at the Arena Fonte Nova.
Despite looking solid at the back (young goalkeeper Thibaut Cortois has been particularly impressive) the Belgians are looking fairly toothless up front and a return of just four goals has seen Wilmot experimenting with his front line, appearing to have lost faith in serial Chelsea loanee, Romelu Lukaku.
Belgium do however look extremely potent on the wings, and this is one of the key areas which Jurgen Klinsman is going to have to address if his team are to have any chance of advancing to the quarter finals. In particular the USMNT are going to have to find a way of stopping Eden Hazard from cutting inside and bearing down on the box. Belgium don’t look particularly dynamic in the centre of midfield so Beckerman may have to provide cover on both flanks so as to avoid becoming exposed.
The USMNT have looked reasonably comfortable when they have been defending with the ball in front of them, but they have looked vulnerable from crosses. Depending on fitness the USMNT are going to have to deal with Thomas Vermalen, Vincent Kompany, Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertongen, and Marouane Felaine.
One thing that the USMNT has done particularly well so far is that they have stayed on their feet and resisted the temptation of lunging into tackles. In order to neutralize the aerial threat posed by these players, it’s important that Klinsman’s men aren’t constantly conceding needless free kicks around the half way line so that Cortois can pump long balls into the box.
The USMNT are arguably outgunned in every single department apart from the middle of the pitch. For a win I feel that the USA should be aiming to take the Belgians into the lottery that is penalties.
On another note: this may just sound like sour grapes as my beloved England crashed out of the tournament without a single victory, but I just think that the ‘I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win’ chant has to be the single most generic chant I have ever heard, and should be stricken from the repertoire. I have adopted the USMNT as my second team, but I almost want them to go out of the tournament so that I don’t have to hear that chant again.