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Brazil vs. Germany

Brazil and Germany will take the field Tuesday afternoon for a spot in the 2014 World Cup final.
Brazil made its home fans happy with a dominating 2-1 victory over Colombia, but it came with a price. Neymar, the star for Brazil who has four goals and an assist, is out for the remainder of the tournament with a broken vertebra. It’s a good thing David Luiz has scored back-to-back goals for Brazil. The home team will also need Fred and Hulk to step up big time if it is going to advance to the finals. Brazil has been walking on thin ice throughout the tournament and sometimes leaves the door open for its opponents. It will need to get off to a fast start to overcome the loss of its star player. Brazil will also be without captain Thiago Silva after picking up his second yellow card.
Germany has won four of its five matches in regulation and looks like probably the best team at this very moment. Germany’s 1-0 win over France was a beautiful display of defense, as goalie Manuel Neuer has allowed just one goal in his last three matches. He’ll need to continue to play at an elite level with all of the quick strikers on Brazil. What makes Germany so scary is that its offense can come from anywhere, as Thomas Müller hasn’t scored a goal in two matches and still has four goals in the tournament. Guys such as Mats Hummels, André Schürrle and Mesut Özil have been carrying the load. This is a solid team on both sides of the ball.
I’ve been picking against Brazil lately given the value, but I’m not sure how anyone can pick Brazil in this match given the circumstances. The team is without its top player and captain. This was going to be a tough match regardless, now, there’s no reason why Germany shouldn’t win. Other than the fact Brazil hasn’t lost in forever on its home turf, Germany has to be the pick in this matchup.
I’m taking Germany at the excellent value.

Pick
Germany +170 Brazil

Argentina vs. Netherlands

Argentina and the Netherlands will square off Wednesday afternoon in the 2014 World Cup semifinals.
Argentina beat Belgium in the quarterfinals to get to this point and displayed remarkable defense in the victory. Belgium was only able to get four shots on goal in the loss and goalie Sergio Romero hasn’t allowed a goal in two straight matches. Argentina has shown in the knockout stages that it is more than capable of playing a passive and defensive game as well as an aggressive offensively style of play. And while it once seemed like Argentina couldn’t win without Lionel Messi finding the net, the star hasn’t scored a goal in two straight matches. Gonzalo Higuaín scored the game winner against Belgium. However, with the matches getting bigger and bigger, you can expect the top player in the world to make his impact felt in this one.
The Netherlands had their 0-0 game against Costa Rica decided on penalty kicks and they advanced due to scoring on four of their attempts. While the score may appear to be even, the Netherlands controlled the ball for 65 percent of the time and got 15 shots on goal. The Netherlands could have easily scored three or four goals, and Costa Rica had no shot of keeping up with just three shots on goal. It was probably the best performance the Netherlands have had all tournament and that’s saying something for a team that’s dominated each opponent with all four wins in regulation. What’s scary for this team is that Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben haven’t scored in a while after scoring a combined six goals in their first two matches. Those two will certainly look to find the net in this one.
This is going to be a highly entertaining match that could truly go either way. Both have been playing lights out on both ends of the field. However, once you get into these stages of the World Cup, the best players begin to takeover, and nobody is capable of doing just that better than Messi.
I think the Argentinean star finds the net once and sets his teammates up for another goal and Argentina leaves victorious.
Give me Argentina in a regulation win.

Pick
Argentina +140 Netherlands

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica

Costa Rica and the Netherlands will battle it out on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup.
Costa Rica had a tough time against Greece, but was able to pull it out in the penalty kicks by scoring on all five attempts. Costa Rica had just two shots on goal and controlled the ball for 43 percent of the match, while the Greeks had 13 shots on goal and 24 shots overall. However, that likely had a lot to do with key defender Oscar Duarte getting himself thrown out of the game after receiving a second yellow card. Costa Rica should still be fine defensively with Duarte out, but it’s a question of who is going to step up offensively. Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell have combined for three of Costa Rica’s five goals in this tournament.
The Netherlands looked like they were dead in the water against Mexico before they scored two late goals to secure the shocking win given the circumstances. Netherlands controlled the ball for 55 percent of the match and had other players besides Arjen Robben step up. Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored their first goals of the tournament in the victory and will need to continue to play well for this team to have a serious chances to win it all. Like Costa Rica, the Netherlands will also likely be without a key defender, as Nigel de Jong suffered an injury in his last match.
Everybody and their brother is on the Netherlands and this is usually where the Cinderella runs come to an end, which is bad news for Costa Rica. However, there’s no value in taking the Netherlands at odds of -225. That’s why I’m taking the over.
The Netherlands should be able to score a couple of goals with one of Costa Rica’s key defenders out, and Costa Rica will score a goal late out of desperation.
I like the over in this match.

Pick
Over 2.5

France vs. Germany

Germany and France will square off Friday afternoon in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals.
Germany got past Algeria by scoring two quick goals in extra regulation, as the two teams played more than 90 minutes without scoring a single goal. As usual, Germany was super aggressive by controlling the ball for more than 60 percent of the match and getting 22 of their 29 total shots on goal. There were also other players besides Thomas Muller who contributed, as André Schürrle and Mesut Özil scored the crucial goals. It was the first game of this World Cup that didn’t involve a goal from the German superstar. Germany now has 31 shots on goal in its last two matches. As long as that aggressiveness continues, the Germans give themselves a great chance to win any match.
France beat Nigeria 2-0 with the help of Joseph Yobo, who kicked the ball in the wrong net. France also received an insurance goal in the final minutes from Paul Pogba. Overall, it was a solid performance from France, a team that has yet to lose in the World Cup. France got nine of its 15 shots on goal and pretty much split the ball control time down the middle with Nigeria. France bring great defense in this match, as it has allowed just two goals throughout the tournament and has shutout three of its four opponents. However Germany is by far the toughest opponent the French have faced yet.
This match is certainly a clash between styles, but I like teams that I know can put the ball in the net when they have to. Germany usually dominates time of possession and is certainly going to have the French defense on its heels. I’m not sure France can keep up for 90 minutes and the game could get even more difficult if France gets down early and has to abandon its game plan.
Give me Germany to win in regulation.

Pick
Germany +125 France

Brazil vs. Colombia

Colombia and Brazil will meet Friday in what should be an incredible 2014 quarterfinal World Cup match.
Colombia has won all four of its World Cup matches this year, with its most recent win being a 2-0 victory over Uruguay. While Colombia’s offense has been no slouch, Faryd Mondragon has allowed just two goals in the first four matches. Colombia’s defense has been the real deal in this tournament, as all nine of Uruguay’s shots on goal failed to find the net. Offensively, James Rodríguez is putting Colombia on his back, as he’s scored in each of the first four matches, including scoring both goals in the win in the round of 16. While Rodriguez may look like the best player in the tournament thus far, you get the feeling somebody else must step up if Colombia has any chance of picking up another win.
While Brazil hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype so far, it was still able to eliminate Chile by winning the penalty kick battle, 3-2. Brazil got a solid 13 shots on goal in the win, but was inches away from losing the game in extra time. However, the same thing could be said if Hulk’s goal in the second half was ruled good. Brazil sometimes looks a little uninspired and seems to be relying a little too much on Neymar to bail them out of matches. While Neymar has scored four goals, not including the penalty kick that ultimately beat Chile, it’s a dangerous way to play. Like Colombia, look for somebody else to step up if the home team is going to advance.
This game could really go either way and Brazil hasn’t lost a game at home in what seems like forever. However, Colombia is playing wonderful soccer and doesn’t have nearly the pressure Brazil is facing. They’re pretty much playing with house money given the fact few expect them to win.
With that said, there’s too much value not to pick Colombia in this spot. Colombia has been playing well on both sides of the ball, while Brazil has looked a little lackluster at times.
I’ll take my chances with a Colombia win and a shocker in what has been a great World Cup.

Pick
Colombia +330 Brazil

Argentina vs. Belgium

Argentina and Belgium play Saturday afternoon in a 2014 World Cup quarterfinal match.
Argentina was finally able to win a World Cup match without Lionel Messi scoring a goal in its 1-0 victory over Switzerland. Ángel di María scored the game-winning goal in extra regulation, a pass that came off of Messi’s foot. While the score may appear that the game was tight, Argentina got an impressive 22 shots on goal and controlled the ball for 61 percent of the match. Argentina now has 35 shots on goal in its last two matches and has proven to be arguably the most dangerous offensive team remaining in the tournament. However, there are some concerns about Argentina defensively and if a team can keep the ball long enough, those issues could be exposed.
Belgium eliminated the United States with a 2-1 victory and scored both of its goals in extra regulation. While that game remained scoreless throughout 90-plus minutes, Belgium could have easily won the game in regulation after getting 27 shots on goal and 38 shots overall. Much like Argentina, Belgium has proven it can attack with the best of them and now has 54 shots in its last two games. One positive sign for Belgium is that Romelu Lukaku scored his first goal of the tournament. If he can get going, this team becomes that much better. Goalie Thibaut Courtois has allowed just two goals in the tournament and may be the best goalkeeper remaining.
I think there’s value with Belgium in this match, as it’s a team that’s starting to peak at the right time. However, there’s also value with the over. With the amount of shots both teams get on goal, you can’t help but think this match features three or more goals.
I’m taking the over 2.5 goals in this one.

Pick
Over 2.5

United States vs. Belgium

The United States and Belgium will play an improbable elimination World Cup match on Tuesday afternoon.
Belgium was able to sweep Group H with wins over Algeria, Russia and Korea Republic. You have to give credit to Belgium, a team that’s allowed only one goal the entire tournament. Belgium is also only the fourth team in this World Cup to sweep its bracket. However, this team hasn’t lived up to expectations, winning all three of its matches on one-goal nail biters. Belgium’s two key players in Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard have been disappearing acts for much of the tournament and will have to be a lot more aggressive for this team to have any shot. Goalie Thibaut Courtois can only keep standing on his head for so long. They say the knockout rounds are a new tournament, and it’s going to be interesting to see which Belgium team shows up.
The United States has overachieved with a win over Ghana, draw with Portugal and one-goal loss to Germany. Many didn’t believe the U.S. had what it took to survive the Group of Death, but thanks to impressive goalkeeping from Tim Howard and a great all-around defense, the United States has proved a point to the rest of the world. USA has done a lot of defending in the tournament, losing the possession battle in all three matches, including allowing Germany to control the ball for 63 percent of the match. It’s panned out for them so far, but I’m sure coach Jurgen Klinsmann would like to see a little more attacking offensively. That could start with a possible return from Jozy Altidore, who remains questionable for this match.
As I mentioned before, Belgium hasn’t impressed me offensively despite its three wins. All three matches were against subpar opponents and probably shouldn’t have been as close as they were. Meanwhile, the U.S. has battled its way through a proven group and has shown it isn’t intimated by anybody in this tournament.
The U.S. will be the toughest team Belgium has faced thus far, I’m not sure I can say the same thing the other way around. Give me the USA for the victory.

Pick
United States +300 Belgium

Switzerland vs. Argentina

Switzerland and Argentina play an elimination World Cup match on Tuesday afternoon.
Switzerland beat Ecuador, Honduras and lost to France to get to this point in the tournament. In the 3-0 win over Honduras, Switzerland proved just how deadly it can be by getting 13 of its 16 shots on goal in just 39 percent of the time. An aggressive team with Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored three goals in his last match, can flip the field quickly and is deadly accurate with the ball. However, Switzerland will have to be a little more cautious with its attack going up against an extremely talented Argentina quad. It’s also about time Stephan Lichtsteiner plays to his potential and takes some of the pressure off Shaqiri.
Argentina did exactly what it was supposed to by sweeping Group F as one of the favorites in the World Cup. Although Argentina has sometimes looked like a one-man team with Lionel Messi carrying the way with at least one goal in each of the three matches. Messi, who has struggled in the World Cup in the past, is proving why he’s the best player in the world and is making Argentina backers real confident at the moment. Messi may have to continue to dominate with Sergio Aguero possibly out for this game with an injury and Gonzalo Higuain struggling. Argentina has controlled the ball no less than 55 percent of the time in its three matches.
Switzerland is likely going to play more of a defensive minded game in hopes of not losing, but that strategy isn’t going to pay off. You have to play to win once you get this far in the tournament. Argentina is going to get quality looks regardless, and it’s hard to bet against Messi at the moment.
Anything under -200 is great value for me, as I don’t see Argentina losing. Sure, the chalk could be lower, but I’ll bite at this price before it gets any higher.

Pick
Argentina -185 Switzerland

Algeria vs. Germany

Algeria and Germany will face off in an elimination World Cup match on Monday afternoon.
Algeria lost to Belgium, beat Korea Republic and settled for a draw against Russia. While it wasn’t always pretty, Algeria’s gritty style of soccer got them out of a tough Group H, a group many didn’t expect them to survive. It’s the first time Algeria has ever reached the knockout stages in its short World Cup history. Besides an offensive explosion against South Korea, Algeria has scored just two combined goals in its last two matches and will probably be best suited in this match to continue to rely on its solid defense. While Algeria’s defense must carry much of the load in this match to have any shot at an upset, Sofiane Feghouli must continue to be aggressive and open up opportunities when they’re there. Feghouli has a goal and an assist in this tournament.
Germany has been one of the most consistent teams in the tournament, beating the United States, Portugal and drawing with Ghana. The Germans look unbeatable at times, especially with Thomas Muller leading the way with four goals in three matches and having a good chance to win the Golden Boot. Germany has been super aggressive with 15 shots on goal in its last two matches and controlling no less than 54 percent of the ball in each of its three games thus far. What makes Germany even scarier is that Bastian Schweinsteiger is just now getting his feet under him.
There’s little doubt that Germany should win this game. Germany is going to dominate the ball and have plenty of chances to put the ball in the net. While there’s no questioning that, I like Algeria to keep it close simply because it’s an elimination game.
Give me Algeria and the spread due to the Germany ML having no value.

Pick
Algeria +1.5 -105 Germany

Ivory Coast vs. Greece

Ivory Coast and Greece will meet Tuesday afternoon in a critical group C World Cup matchup.
Greece lost to Columbia and settled for a draw against Japan, making this a must win match. Greece can’t like its chances considering it has yet to score in this World Cup. And sudden offense doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon, as Greece controlled the ball 32 percent of time and got only five shots on goal in the draw against Japan. To make matters worse, Kostas Katsouranis won’t participate in this match due to receiving a red card. Greece is a heavily defensive minded team, but needs to start being a little more aggressive offensively in order to have a shot. Look for Georgios Samaras to have a big game.
Ivory Coast beat Japan but lost to Columbia, which means it can advance to the next round with a victory here. Ivory Coast has done a nice job of attacking offensively, as it got 12 shots on goal and controlled the ball 56 percent of the time in its loss to Columbia. Overall, Ivory Coast has 21 shots on goal in its first two matches, which is a positive sign against anybody. You have to wonder just how much time Didier Drogba is going to see in this match after riding the bench. Ivory Coast will need another big game from Wilfried Bony in order to clinch a berth in the knockout stages.
Ivory Coast is way too aggressive not to win this game, as it’s a huge advantage with the way Greece relies on defense and doesn’t push the issue offensively. I like the team that gets a ton of shots on goal because some of those balls are bound to find the net. Greece just doesn’t match up well with Ivory Coast.
I’m taking Ivory Coast for the victory.

Pick
Ivory Coast +105 Greece

The Rooms
Bobby C Sports Columnist