The Swiss have never beaten Argentina, and Shaqiri is no Messi, the hat trick in the group stage notwithstanding. So an upset here would be even more unlikely than for the USA against Belgium.
Two serious underdogs, but both capable of pulling off an upset. Both games should be entertaining.
FIRST HALF 0-0. Switzerland could easily be up 2-0, but a great save and a poor shot leave it tied. Argentina definitely has the edge on talent, but the Swiss have been the better team so far. The defenders are living on the edge, however, by repeatedly attempting to dribble the ball out under pressure rather than simply clearing the ball from the top of the box.
SECOND HALF 0-0. Argentina took over the game and had several decent chances, but tough defending and a great pair of saves in succession by Bernaglio kept Switzerland in the game.
It’s interesting to be watching the game with little girls.
Little Girl 1: Who is the guy with the green shirt?
Me: He’s the assistant referee.
Little Girl 1: He runs up and down a lot.
Me: He has to stay even with the ball. It’s his job to watch for offsides.
Little Girl 1: What’s offsides?
Little Girl 2: It’s when the ball goes off the side of the TV.
Little Girl 1: Oh, okay. (In a tone indicating “that makes sense”)
EXTRA TIME: Argentina 1 Switzerland 0. Looked like it was going to penalties, but Lichtsteiner got careless, Messi pulled the Swiss defense to him, and laid a perfect pass to Di Maria, who finished nicely. Di Maria deserved the goal, as he was the only player on either team that was actually trying to win the game for the second extra period. Switzerland then hit the post on a corner in extra injury time, but that was as close as they got.
USA v Belgium
FIRST HALF 0-0. Shaky start for Team USA, but they settle down and finally begin counterattacking. They gradually take control and start getting great runs down the right side, but just don’t have the technical ability to finish off the chances they’re creating. Belgium owns its own right side; DaMarcus Beasley is working hard but he’s a bit overmatched. Belgium is the more skilled side, but contra the pre-match reports, the US is more than matching their athleticism.
The challenge will be when the players start to tire; that’s when the more skilled team usually starts taking advantage of the extra time and space created. Johnson went out with a hamstring, but his replacement has been more than adequate, and remarkably, is even more attack-oriented.
SECOND HALF 0-0. Belgium wins 16 corners, but ferocious US defense and outstanding goaltending by Howard keeps the USA in the game. Yedlin, the right back, is somehow the entire US attack. Dempsey has two opportunities to send someone through, but he’s got tunnel vision and takes two nothing shots instead.
Belgium is controlling the game and the USA looks beat, but they manage to make it to extra time with a little help from the Belgian attackers shooting wide.
EXTRA TIME: Belgium scores once quickly, then again near the end to seemingly put the game away. But a great drop-in by Bradley puts the US back in it. USA wins a lot of respect for refusing to quit and go quietly, but they just don’t have the technical ability to match their spirit. 2-1 Belgium.