Friday July 4th, 2014

Is the clock about to strike midnight on the Cinderella story of the 2014 World Cup? 

The Netherlands hope so, as it looks to send surprising Costa Rica home from the global soccer ball in the late game on Saturday.

Before those two face off, Saturday's early action will be Argentina vs. Belgium, as the quarterfinal round wraps up and all four teams hope to join Germany and Brazil in the semifinals. 

Argentina vs. Belgium

Argentina is a +110 favorite to win the game without going to extra time, according to books monitored by OddsShark.com. Belgium would pay +275 on a win, while the game going to extra time would pay +235. The total is set at 2.5 goals.

As has been the case for most of its games in this World Cup, Argentina failed to find its stride on offense against Switzerland, taking a 0-0 score late into extra time. Lionel Messi played the familiar role of hero, making a great run and a great pass to Angel di Maria for a goal in the 118th minute.

The Argentines have won all four of their games by a one-goal margin.

Belgium was constantly on the attack against the united States in its first knockout game, but also couldn't find any goals until extra time, though most of that can be credited to the play of U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. After dominating the game leading up to extra time, Belgium broke through for two goals in its 2-1 win to send it through to the quarters. Belgium has also won its four games by one-goal margins.

Both of these teams have taken a near identical path to this point, struggling on offense but getting out of weak groups with nail-biting wins. This one could go either way, but Lionel Messi tilts the odds in Argentina's favor.

Prediction: 3-2 Argentina

Netherlands vs. Costa Rica

Netherlands is a -210 favorite to beat Costa Rica in 90 minutes plus added time, per WorldCupOdds.net. Costa Rica is going off at +600 to win and +325 to force extra time. The total is set at 2.5 goals.

Down 0-1 to Mexico in the 87th minute, it looked like there was a good chance that Netherlands would be going home. Instead, Wesley Sneijder netted the equalizer in the 88th minute and Arjen Robben drew a foul in the penalty box shortly afterward.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored on the ensuing penalty kick and the Netherlands, though down for the first 88 minutes, suddenly found itself moving on. 

Costa Rica was down to 10 men and holding on for dear life to a 1-0 lead late in its knockout game against Greece, but conceded the tying goal in added time. Greece would get to play the entire extra time period with an 11-on-10 advantage, but Costa Rica held on for penalty kicks and emerged victorious there. The Costa Ricans are without question the most surprising team of the tournament to this point.

Netherlands is a clear favorite with much more offensive firepower and history, but being the decided underdog hasn't stopped Costa Rica yet.

Prediction: 2-0 Netherlands

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