[BRAZIL 2014]Belgium is loaded with players from some of the biggest clubs in Europe -- Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, all the EPL giants -- and the Red Devils have beaten the USA in their last two meetings, but U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann says his team has the confidence to win on Tuesday in Salvador. It will take, though, a much better performance than against Germany.
“They are full of individual talent, there’s no doubt about it,” Klinsmann said of Belgium in his first comments since it clinched first place in Group H to set up a date with the USA, which it beat 1-0 in 2011 and 4-2 in 2012. “So much talent coming through the Belgian system, it’s admirable. We are aware of that. But we also believe we have enough confidence now going into this game to beat them. We all know we have to go to our extremes and get 100 percent from each player to make this happen."
Klinsmann said he has not seen that yet from his players, who will be coming off a 1-0 loss to Germany that followed a 2-1 win over Ghana and 2-2 tie with Germany.
“I was definitely not as happy as with the first two games with the performance they had against Germany,” he said. “Now, going into knockout games, everyone has to call up his 100 percent for the team. I believe that in our team so far, nobody can claim that he reached his 100 percent yet."
Klinsmann is looking for more consistency from his players -- the same consistency he says the Belgian players get from playing at big clubs.
“The key in a World Cup is try to repeat that time and again, to play to your highest capability," he added. "We don’t have that consistency yet throughout a whole year.”
Belgian coach Marc Wilmots started a team against Algeria in its opener that included six players based in England, two each Spain and England and one in Russia. In the USA's loss to Germany, Klinsmann started seven players in MLS, plus one each in England, Germany, Mexico and Turkey.
That lack of players from big-name clubs is one reason the USA and other teams from Concacaf don't get a lot of respect in Europe, but that is changing, Klinsmann said, thanks to the qualification of the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica ahead of the likes of England, Italy, Portugal and Croatia.
“To be honest," he said, "I know how people from Europe look over at our region, and there’s not that level of respect that we would like to have. So to have these results now, things are changing. People look differently to our region and say, ‘You know what, there’s a lot happening here.’"
USA. Jozy Altidore has resumed training after sitting out the last two games with a hamstring injury and Klinsmann is very optimistic "we’ll have him be part of the Belgium game.”
-- Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya were cleared to train after being checked by U.S. Soccer doctors after colliding in the Germany match. Jones came out the worse for wear with a broken nose.
BELGIUM.Right back Anthony Vanden Borre is out of the World Cup after breaking his ankle at the end of the game Thursday against South Korea, his first of the tournament for which he earned high marks.
Captain Vincent Kompany, who sat out the South Korea on Thursday, is now listed as uncertain for the U.S. match, as is left back Thomas Vermaelen, who was injured in the Russia match. Laurent Ciman, the lone field player who did not play in the three group matches, is also injured, leaving Coach Marc Wilmotswith just four healthy defenders.
If Kompany cannot come back, the likely backline against the USA will be Atletico Madrid's Toby Alderweireld, who was rested for the South Korea match, at right back, Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St. Petersburg) and Daniel Van Buyten (Bayern Munich) in the middle and Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham) on the left side.
"These injuries might be a problem," said Wilmots, "but I have solutions. And Daniel Van Buyten and Nicolas Lombaerts played well in the middle Thursday against the South Koreans."