America

USA! USA! USA! USA!

But first, we have to get through Argentina-Switzerland. Argentina won all three of its Group F games against a convincing Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iran riding high on the power of one of the world’s best athletes in his sport, Lionel Messi. Messi has scored in every game he’s played in the tourney so far, his two goals against the Golden Eagles the difference between victory and a draw. Messi is not only playing on another level, he has an entire team built around him to help ascend to the highest honor in Argentinian soccer, to match the miraculous play of Diego Maradona. For their part the Swiss are talking tough, with coach Ottmar “der General” Hitzfeld — one of the most successful coaches in soccer history — pointing out that Messi, like all puzzles, can be solved.

(As an aside to the participants the previous Swiss World Cup open threads, to paraphrase Kommentariat leader Otto Man, “The Swiss seem superior without the follow through of the Germans.” This article on the Swiss team and immigration from the BBC might be of interest.)

In the afternoon, USA! USA! USA!

Like Argentina, Belgium won all of its group matches, but one cannot compare 1-o wins over an anemic South Korean side (pelted by toffee by their own fans!) and an equally disappointing Russian squad in Group H to the stronger Group F play. Still, the Red Devils tore through its qualification matches and have a squad loaded with Champions League players, not to mention coach Marc Wilmots hasn’t lost with his team since 2012. The Belgians will be without star defender¬†Thomas Vermaelen, Anthony Vanden Borre and probably will be without captain Vincent Kompany (sorry, writing this late so I can firmly has my ass-in-seat for the game, so the starting roster still has not been set, but knowing how much time he has missed for City, my gut says he’s out) while the US see the return of Jozy Altidore. What to expect?¬†Coach Jurgen Klinsmann says he’s going to throw more forward and press the team on offense, smart against a team that has been soft on the sides. Tim Howard’s going to be busy. None of us are going to breathe for two hours.

And just to piss off all the US soccer haters out there, home and abroad? The Americans are everyone else in the world’s second favorite team these days.

USA! USA! USA! USA!