World Cup Daily: Does Messi have enough magic?

World Cup Daily: Does Messi have enough magic?
July 5, 2014, 10:45 am
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Game of the Day: Argentina vs. Belgium, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Lionel Messi has been the saving grace for Argentina so far in the tournament, as he's had a couple of late goals to lift Argentina. Belgium needed extra time against the United States to advance to the quarterfinals and won in dramatic fashion.

The Belgians have the difficult task of trying to stop Lionel Messi, and with a beat-up defense right now that could be trouble. Vincent Kompany survived the game against the United States, but he's still an injury risk. Thomas Vermaelen won't get called on to start, while Anthony Vanden Borre is out for the rest of the tournament. Their midfield will have to step up on the defensive side of things to slow down the Argentine attack. Axel Witsel and Marouane Fellaini will be crucial for the Belgians in the midfield.

While Lionel Messi is the little magician for Argentina, he does have help in Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi. The pair have yet to score, but are a threat anywhere around the box. On the defensive side, Argentina will have to pay close attention to Eden Hazard. Pablo Zabaleta is one of the better fullbacks in soccer and gets the task of trying to stop Hazard, it will be one of the better individual match-ups to watch.

Player of the Day: F Arjen Robben, Netherlands

Arjen Robben is a controversial player, but when he is not diving he is one of the better players in the world. It's just that diving. He has already apologized once this World Cup for his diving, so hopefully he can cut it out and move on. He won't, unfortunately, but he will be the key for the Dutch attack against Costa Rica. He hasn't scored since their second game of the group stage, but has been creating opportunities for others.

World Cup Rewind: Brazil survived James Rodriguez and Colombia to advance, but lost their star Neymar after he fractured a vertebra when he took a knee to the back. It's an unfortunate turn of events for the Brazilians heading into the semifinals without their star. Germany advanced by France thanks to a Mats Hummels goal early and killed off the French attack for most of the game. 

Predictions: Argentina 2, Belgium 1. Netherlands 2, Costa Rica 0.