5 Fearless Predictions for the World Cup Quarterfinals

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Messi's Argentina Will Avenge the USA

PHOTO: Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Stanley Chou/Getty Images
PHOTO: Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

They are positively jam-packed with talent, an all-star team of international stars, but something just doesn't seem right. The possession, the movement, the shots, it's all there. But the goals have been difficult to come by and too often left to the final, gory minutes. Yes, we're talking about Argentina. Oh, and we're also talking about Belgium.

Two early favorites to lift the World Cup trophy in the Maracana, both La Albiceleste and les Diables Rouges have struggled to find their stride. In the end, thought, Argentina have Lionel Messi. Too often criticized by his countrymen for failing to deliver the kind of performances he regularly puts in for club team Barcelona, Messi has taken this tournament by the toe. For his sake, and some bitter Americans, let's hope he gets to it early in this Sunday quarterfinal.

In the end: Argentina 2, Belgium 1

PHOTO: Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal during the match between Barcelona U19 and Arsenal U19 in the UEFA Youth League Quarter Final at Mini Estadi on March 18, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.
David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
PHOTO: Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal during the match between Barcelona U19 and Arsenal U19 in the UEFA Youth League Quarter Final at Mini Estadi on March 18, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.

USA Comes Up the Big Winner?

English soccer writer Michael Cox declared in his post-mortem analysis of the U.S. team's loss to Belgium that "this World Cup has not been so much about the United States falling in love with soccer, but about soccer falling in love with the United States." Indeed, for all the beautiful pictures of masses of Americans gathering to worship at the feet of Clint Dempsey and the hands of Tim Howard, some of the most impressive signs have come from abroad.

Pundits and players who for so long dismissed the U.S. as "soccerballers" with some spirit, but no real edge, are recalibrating. Now that's progress.

In the end: USA wins big -- at home and abroad.

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