Today's quarterfinals feature two inter-continental matches as Argentina takes on Belgium and Costa Rica represents CONCACAF and takes on the Netherlands. After yesterday's defensive win by Germany and foul-filled slog by Brazil, hopefully today's matches will provide some excitement not tinged with cynicism.
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Argentina vs. Belgium
Watch it on: ABC, ESPN2
Kick off: 9:00 AM PT at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia
Belgium has not looked convincing at any stage of this competition, failing to take control of the game against any of their opponents. Argentina, meanwhile, has looked decidedly pedestrian for most of their matches until Messi flips a switch and turns on the goals. Even in Argentina's Round of 16 win over Switzerland, they made little headway until a bit of magic from Messi played in Angel di Maria.
It would be great to see either one of these teams start to click going into the semifinals, but really this has all the hallmarks of a frustrating battle that will turn on some wholly unsatisfying detail. Or it will turn into a shootout as an early goal breaks the game wide open. Who knows?
Netherlands vs. Costa Rica
Watch it on: ESPN2
Kick off: 1:00 PM PT at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador
This match contains the most exciting attacking team remaining to play in the quarterfinals and, as CONCACAF homers, many are rooting against them. The Netherlands, despite a pragmatic approach to soccer made necessary by the modern game, still show flashes of the old "total football" that made the game so attractive to watch. Costa Rica, meanwhile, lack the star power of Holland, but make up for it with a group of players taht don't seem to know or care that they are the underdogs.