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.

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

[ MORE: Perisic talking with Man Utd? ]

The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”

MLS roundup: Outrageous dive, posts doom ‘Caps; Ramirez stays red hot

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Six matches are in the books on a busy Saturday in Major League Soccer, and five of them finished 1-0.

How they got there? Much different stories. With the Cali Clasico still to play, let’s dig into the five that followed Seattle 1-0 Portland.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]


Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 DC United

It’s especially difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer, unless the hosts fritter away four good chances off the woodwork — including a Cristian Techera PK — and give away a spot kick of their own. Lamar Neagle converted the 61st offering after a sinister dive from Jose Guillermo Ortiz. He was taken off soon after, and is probably going to miss sometime when the DisCo is done with him. Outrageous.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Not one, not two, nor three, but four New England players saw a low cross slide by them for Daniel Royer to finish as New York came from behind to take all three points at Red Bull Arena. Cody Cropper committed a gaffe that allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to equalize after a Lee Nguyen PK had put the Revs ahead early.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Sporting KC

Homegrown defender and University of Denver product Kortne Ford has his first MLS goal, as the Rapids surprised the Western Conference leaders on Saturday. SKC outshot Colorado by nearly 20 attempts (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Minnesota United 1-0 Orlando City

There were questions as to whether NASL superstar Christian Ramirez could translate his game to Major League Soccer.

Yes. The answer is yes.

Ramirez has eight goals in 13 MLS matches, and should be hearing his name from a certain Bruce Arena around Gold Cup time. Those USMNT dreams of last season should come true.

Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves for his third shutout of the season. All have come at home.

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Joao Plata keeps shooting, and the tiny Ecuadorian menace keeps scoring, too. His 36th minute goal was enough for the hosts at Rio Tinto.

Raiola: Zlatan to “100 percent” stay in Europe for two seasons

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]

Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.

But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.

Report: Manchester United, Inter Milan keen on Perisic deal

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Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.

Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.

United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.