If you didn't believe in the boys in Red, White, and Blue, now would be a good time to get on board, as the fifth day of the World Cup brought us an instant classic, with John Brooks scoring in the 86th minute to give the United States an epic win over Ghana, land the Yanks three points, and put them in a good position to survive the dreaded Group of Death. For now, while we wait those six long days for the USMNT to take on Portugal, we turn to other World Cup action.
Today, we start off with one of best young teams in the tournament, the Red Devils of Belgium, led by Eden Hazard, taking on Algeria at 9 a.m. PST on ESPN. The Algerians are hopelessly mismatched against one of the best, if not the best, Belgian team ever assembled. If you want to see some wide open attacking play, Belgium is the team to watch, as their roster is stocked full of young, exciting playmakers - Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Everton's Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj, and Everton's Kevin Mirallas.
Once the Belgians make short work of the Algerians (as widely expected), we'll get to see a Latin American classic, with Mexico taking on host Brazil at noon PST on ESPN. Both squads are coming off big opening game wins and Brazil will look to book their place out of the group stage with a win over a Mexico squad that has been rather inconsistent over the past year. The Brazilians will be out to win comfortably to put to bed the questions that came up following their closer-than-the-score-indicates 3-1 win over Croatia. Fortunately for Neymar and Co., a certain Luka Modric is Croatian and not Mexican, so the home-nation boys have a really good shot at picking up three mor points.
And finally, we'll end the day with a clash between the two squads widely tipped to be playing for second in Group H, as 2018 World Cup hosts Russia take on 2002 World Cup hosts South Korea at 3 p.m. PST on ESPN. Neither team is expected to do much more than finish second in Group H, followed by an absolute thumping by the Germans, the hands-down favorite to not just win Group G, but advance into the final four of the tournament (with this World Cup so far serving as the Thomas Müller coming out/play-me-more-Bayern party).
None of today's games have the big name cachet of, say, Germany vs. Portugal or Spain vs. Netherlands or England vs. Italy, but the Brazil vs. Mexico game has the potential to turn into a classic, as the Mexicans have been scrappy when it comes to tournament time, but have been held back by their own inconsistency. The Brazilians are very good, but not great, lacking the jaw-dropping depth of talent that we became accustomed to in 1994 (Taffarel, Jorginho, Dunga, Romario, Cafu, Ronaldo) and 2002 (Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka), and they will have to shoulder the burden of the highest expectations, with anything other than a World Cup final victory considered to be a national disaster. So, will Mexico scrap together a consistent effort? Will Brazil buckle under the immense pressure? Or will Neymar and this next generation of Brazilians stake their claim to the tradition of greatness that belongs to the Seleção?
This is your World Cup open thread for the sixth day of action in Brazil. Fire away with your thoughts, analysis, and opinions as you tune in and as we anxiously count down to the return of the boys in Red, White, and Blue.
I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!