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Game on: Lineups and more for Argentina vs. Belgium

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Yesterday, an early header from Mats Hummels was enough for Germany to beat France 1-0, with les bleus unable to find any sort of answer to a Germany side that finally looked to be clicking.

Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia provided more talking points, few of them happy ones. The referee lost control of the game early on, coming under heavy criticism for his officiating. The unfortunate side effect of his lax approach to discipline was an 88th minute challenge that resulted in Neymar being carried off the pitch on a stretcher. The Brazilian will now miss the rest of the tournament thanks to a broken vertebra.

[ MORE: Last-minute goal sees Argentina advance | Belgium push pass the U.S. in extra time]

LINEUPS

Argentina: Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Basanta; Biglia, Mascherano, Di Maria; Lavezzi, Messi, Higuain

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini; De Bruyne, Mirallas, Hazard, Origi

Talking points

Will Argentina’s attack finally live up to its potential?
Lionel Messi scored ten goals in CONMEBOL qualifying, second only to Luis Suárez. But he wasn’t the only one scoring for Argentina. Gonzalo Higuaín contributed nine goals, Sergio Agüero five, and Ángel di María, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Maxi Rodríguez all three. In total, they scored 35 goals in 16 games.

Now, four games into their tournament, Argentina have scored six on their own, with four of those coming from Messi. Marco Rojo scored the winner against Nigeria, di María against Switzerland, off a ball from Messi. The potency of the albiceleste attack has yet to be truly shown. Will we finally get a glimpse of it today?

Can Romelu Lukaku score again?
The Belgian forward did not get off to a good start in the World Cup, leaving after less than an hour in his first two matches, and not even seeing time in the final group stage game. The 21-year-old looked completely ineffective up top, sluggish and out of ideas. But then he finally managed a goal, besting Tim Howard, whom he’d spent the season with against Everton. Lukaku’s goal insured that Julian Green’s late strike still allowed Belgium to advance.

But Lukaku hasn’t found his way back into the starting lineup, with Marc Wilmots favoring 19-year-old Divock Origi instead. But with Belgium’s tendency to save their goals for late in the match, it could still very well be the Chelsea man that makes the difference.

Expectation
Argentina progress. This is meant to be South America’s tournament. Plus, the albiceleste have a little guy known as Leo. Even when they struggle, Messi’s managed to bail them out.

One blogger’s prediction
Working off my 0% record here, I’m going to go ahead and say Argentina take this one. Because someday, someday, I’m going to be right.

VIDEO: T&T women’s team gives away one of the most bizarre PKs

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Play until you hear the referee’s whistle. In theory, so simple. In practice, it only takes a single second of concentration lapse to become an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]

Such is life for Karyn Forbes, member of the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national soccer team. In the above video, you’ll observe Forbes, a 24-year-old midfielder, giving away perhaps the most bizarre penalty kick you’ll ever see. You’ll have to watch for yourself to believe it.

[ MORE: USWNT opens Olympic qualifying with 5-0 victory ]

Unfortunately for Forbes, though the whole of the ball might have crossed the whole of the end line, the referee did not blow her whistle… not until Forbes picked the ball up with her hands and carried it to her goalkeeper.

Bundesliga to go ahead with video replay tests over two years

FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, file photo, a Hawk-Eye camera is set up at Toyota stadium in Toyota. For the first time at a World Cup, technology will be used to determine whether a ball crosses the goal line during matches at the upcoming tournament in Brazil. With vanishing spray also being used to prevent encroachment by defenders making up a wall during free kicks, officials at the highest level of the world’s most popular sport are finally getting some assistance. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama
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BERLIN (AP) The German Football League (DFL) has given the go-ahead for the possible testing of video replays in the Bundesliga over a two-year pilot phase.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s Bundesliga coverage ]

The DFL says it will be lodging an application with FIFA to take part if the pilot phase is approved by the International Football Association Board at its next annual general meeting on March 5.

The DFL says video replays could be used by a “team of impartial match officials for the purpose of avoiding any evidently incorrect decisions” and that the pilot phase would be preceded by “intensive preparations.”

[ MORE: 17-year-old American MF Pulisic gets Bundesliga debut for Dortmund ]

These would include the settlement of costs among FIFA, the IFAB, the DFL and German football federation, as well as training for the candidates.

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

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Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

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Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

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How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.