Group H: Belgium v Algeria preview

Belgium have become punters' favourites to become first European side to win the tournament on South American soil.

    Belgium made it to Brazil without losing a single match in qualifying [GALLO/GETTY]
    Belgium made it to Brazil without losing a single match in qualifying [GALLO/GETTY]

    Bullish Belgium arrived in Brazil brimming with confidence and strong favourites to top Group H after cruising through qualifying unbeaten, while the clash between Russia and South Korea is likely to decide who joins them in the knockout stages.

    Belgium v Algeria stats

     

    This is the first competitive match in which the teams will be facing each other.

    Belgium boss Marc Wilmots has scored five goals in the World Cup for the national team - which is more than anyone else.

    If Algeria do not score in the first 36 minutes of the match then they will break a record of 517 minutes without a World Cup goal, held by Bolivia.

    Bookmakers rank traditional powerhouses Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain as the top teams to win the Cup, but many punters see Belgium as the smart bet to become the first European side to win the tournament on South American soil.

    The presence of towering skipper Vincent Kompany is key for a Belgian defence that was picked apart by Colombia and Japan in friendlies late last year, while the attacking flair at coach Marc Wilmots' disposal is the envy of many managers in Brazil.

    With bulldozing striker Romelu Lukaku flanked by spellbinding wide men Eden Hazard and Kevin Mirallas, Belgium present a true test of pace and physicality for opposing defenders.

    The prospect of facing such Belgian firepower could see South Korea coach Hong Myung-bo break out in a cold sweat after his side slumped to a 4-0 loss to Ghana in their final World Cup warm-up in Miami.

    "It was individual mistakes rather than the way the team was organised that cost us," Hong said of the defeat. "There is time to get better for the World Cup and I will do my best to improve the team."

    Time is not on his side, however.

    Venue: Estadio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte

    Kick-off: June 17, 1600 GMT

    Past two meetings: Algeria 1 - 3 Belgium (2003), Algeria 0 - 0 Belgium (2002)

    SOURCE: Reuters


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