CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

This week is Europe’s last chance to avoid humiliation by the Americas at the World Cup and it starts today

June 29, 2014
June 29, 2014

Update 2pm ET: This post has been updated to reflect the Netherlands’ 2-1 victory over Mexico.

So far, the 2014 FIFA World Cup has undeniably been the Americas tournament.

Teams from the South American confederation (CONMEBOL) and the North and Central American confederation (CONCACAF) have dominated their counterparts from Europe (winning eight,  drawing two and losing five encounters in the group stages).

Some of the more notable upsets in the group stages include Costa Rica beating four time champions Italy, Chile’s victory against current holders Spain and the US’s agonizing draw against Portugal. South America already has a guaranteed semi-finalist (the winner of the first quarterfinal between Brazil and Colombia on Friday)

No team from Europe has ever won a World Cup hosted in  the Americas. But this week offers Europe a shot at redemption against teams from across the Atlantic. Starting today.

The Netherlands, three times finalists (including in 2010) have defeated Mexico 2-1, thanks to a late penalty. The Dutch have been one of the most impressive teams, if not the most impressive team at the tournament so far (their ruthless 5-1 dismantling of defending champions Spain is still one of the most memorable performances.)

They will now face the winner of today’s second fixture, another Europe vs. Americas clash, next Saturday. Costa Rica, which miraculously managed to top a group containing European heavyweights Italy and England, and two time champions Uruguay, is favored to defeat Greece. But Greece, known for its defensive brand of soccer and which only snuck through to the knockout stages due to a last minute penalty kick in their final group match, will still be fancying its chances. “Sure, I would choose Costa Rica over some other teams,” Greece midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos told the AP.

On Tuesday, Argentina will be heavily favored to defeat Switzerland, a European win here would be a massive upset. A more even contest might be the United States vs. Belgium, which is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated soccer matches in both countries footballing histories. Belgium hasn’t reached the quarterfinals since 1986; the US since 2002.

Belgium’s team is filled with stars from Europe’s top leagues including Chelsea’s midfielder Eden Hazard and Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany.  The US might welcome back injured striker Jozy Altidore. The Europeans are favored to win, but the Americans (who have a 41.6% chance of getting through, according to FiveThirtyEight) have overcome stiffer odds before.

Here, thanks to Google, is how things stand.

Tap image to zoom

 

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