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World Cup Day 11: Open Thread

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Day 11 is bookended by two tantalizing matchups. Starting the day off, the Belgians will seek to topple Mother Russia and secure passage into the knockout stages, while the United States and Portugal close out the day in a match that may decide the group of death.

Kevin C. Cox

Saturday wasn't the most exciting day of the World Cup, but it did bring with it two notable goals. Facing a 0-0 draw with underdog Iran, Argentina was bailed out by a stoppage time golazo by none other than Lionel Messi. Barely 30 seconds into added time, Messi, inexplicably given room to maneuver by the Iranian defense, slammed one into the far post from nearly 20-yards-out, bending it over the heads of six or seven defenders and past a helpless keeper.

But that's just Messi, that's what he does.

Saturday also saw a bit of history with Miroslav Klose's record tying 15th World Cup goal. While his celebratory flip left a little to be desired, Klose's goal was well executed--sneaking behind the defense to get to the back post and guide it home--and well timed, rescuing a point for Germany.

Beyond that, Miralem Pjanic and Bosnia-Herzegovina's first taste of the World Cup turned out to be a quick one. BIH was officially eliminated from the knockout stages thanks to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Nigeria.

Through two matches, Pjanic's play was spectacular, as he completed nearly 90% of his passes and led the Dragons in chances created and dribbles. Going forward, the plan for the Dragons is simple: get Pjanic some help. More often than not, his creativity and steadying hand went for naught, as Bosnia-Herzegovina's offense was woefully inefficient, scoring only one goal despite averaging 18 shots per match.

On to today's action...

The Matches

Group

Venue

Time

Belgium v Russia

H

Maracana, Rio De Janeiro

Noon (EDT)

South Korea v Algeria

H

Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre

15:00 (EDT)

USA v Portugal

G

Arena Amazonia, Manaus

18:00 (EDT)

Last Time Out

Belgium made the most out of their substitutions, as second half goals from Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens steered the Red Devils to a 2-1 victory over Algeria. It was a close call for this year's sleeper candidate, but enough to place them atop Group H.

South Korea and Russia played to 1-1 draw, while Portugal was emasculated by Germany in a 4-0 romp. The United States, meanwhile, were rescued by a second half headed goal from John Anthony Brooks, defeating the Black Stars of Ghana 2-1.

Keep An Eye On

The Americans. With a victory over a suddenly ailing Portuguese side, Sam's Army could leapfrog Germany for first place in Group G eliminating Cristiano Ronaldo and friends in the process. Advancing to the knockout stages is always notable achievement for the US, but, given the controversy that engulfed them in the build-up to Brazil, surviving  the Group of Death would mean that much more.

If Belgium can manage to shake off their first half dust, they have a golden opportunity ahead of them. A victory over Russia would put Jonas' countrymen on six points, enough to survive the group stages, while also putting them in the driver's seat in Group H, keeping their title hopes alive and well.

Where to Watch

In The States, ABC will carry the first two matches, while the US v Portugal is relegated to ESPN, which makes perfect sense. What better way to grow the sport in America than to take your nation's most important match off of broadcast television and onto cable?...brilliant move.