Thomas Vermaelen will not play for Belgium when they take on the United States in the Round of 16 on Tuesday, manager Marc Wilmots has confirmed. The defender has been battling a hamstring injury and was considered unlikely to play in the last few days.
Vermaelen has played just 31 minutes in this World Cup, starting Belgium's second group stage match and coming off just after the half-hour mark. If healthy and selected, he would play left back for Belgium, but instead they will turn to Jan Vertonghen at the position.
Vermaelen is hardly the only injury concern Belgium has at the back. Vincent Kompany is a doubt for the match as he deals with a groin injury, while Anthony Vanden Borre has been ruled out for the tournament with a crack in his fibula. Laurent Ciman also has a knock.
With the Belgium defense in flux, the U.S. has to feel good about their chances to find a goal or two. The Americans scored four goals in the group stage and came close to adding more, so the Belgium defense will have trouble, but the bigger issue for the Americans will be handling the Red Devils' midfield. If Belgium can dominate the midfield, it may not matter if they're weak in defense.