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WORLD CUP PREVIEW: BELGIUM vs RUSSIA

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Fri, 20 Jun 2014 17:27:59 +0000

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Sunday 22nd June – 5pm – Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janerio

Belgium vs Russia World Cup Preview

After a disappointing performance against Algeria, the Red Devils face Russia in the second game of the group stage. Russia who are favourites to be second of group H, drew 1-1 to South Korea.

campaign need to be more convincing to show the world that they are true dark horses and real challengers for this World Cup. A win against Russia will put them through the second round, with only 1 point needed in their last game to avoid a draw against Germany in the last 16.

Analysing the Belgian players against Algeria

Thibaut Courtois

Tough game for a goalkeeper, besides the penalty kick in the first half he had pretty much nothing to do. Based on his season at Spanish title winners Atletico he deserves to start.

Toby Alderweireld

Not his best game. Defensively he didn’t look so stable and as a full back he didn’t bring enough offensively.

Vincent Kompany

Always a certitude in defence, Kompany showed again to be a true leader. Just a shame he contributed to the slow tempo Belgium played during the first half.

Daniël Van Buyten

Was chosen over Vermaelen as he is the only Belgian player with World Cup experience. However, he didn’t look stable and was very hesitant with his choices.

Jan Vertonghen

Made a terrible mistake to give away a penalty. Even if the ball would get to Feghouli the chances of him scoring would be minimal. As Gary Lineker said it: ‘ utterly brainless piece of defending’. After that, he played much better and contributed a lot offensively.Having learnt his lesson and being Belgium’s best left back, he should start next game.

Axel Witsel

Had a good game, he was the only player to threaten the Algerians in first half with his accurate long distance shots.

Moussa Dembélé

Combined well with players  but failed to threaten in the danger zone. Maybe it’s better for Wilmots to use him as a sub and put him in whenever Belgium is comfortably winning and need to keep the ball.

Nacer Chadli

Was the big surprise in the starting 11 after his disappointing season at Spurs. Chadli lost the ball several times and squandered Belgium’s best chance in the first half. I don’t expect to see him start again.

Kevin De Bruyne

Was the best Belgian player who played 90 minutes. Was put on the right wing which isn’t his best position. Gave the assist to Fellaini’s header. The man of the qualification campaign should start the next game but Wilmots should play him in his best position which is central midfield.

Eden Hazard

Did very well on the counter who lead to Merten’s winner goal but could do much better overall. Should start next game as he is always a big HAZARD.

Romelu Lukaku

A lot was expected but he didn’t even touch one ball in the last 16. Although we must say that it was a hard game for him to play as Algeria literally parked a bus. Big Rom is lucky to have only Origi to compete with him for the striker position. He will start next game and he will show why he is called ‘The Beast’.

Dries Mertens

Came in and brought speed and joy to the Belgium game. Scored the winner with a very good finish. This game and his super season at Napoli just proves he is way too good to be on the bench! The only thing that holds him from a starting place is that he is Belgium’s supersub!

Divock Origi

The 19-year-old striker showed that Belgium doesn’t only have 1 striker. Came in and almost directly scored. Wilmots ill use him as a sub again to replace Lukaku for the final minutes.

Marouane Fellaini

Scored a sublime header and won a lot of balls. After this performance he most definitely earns a starting spot.

Expectations for the game against Russia

Fast-paced football from the first whistle

Being absent from the World Cup for 12 years, the Belgians started their first game very nervously. Now with a World Cup game under their belt, we expect the boys to start their next game much more relaxed. We expect Belgium’s opponents to always play very defensive seeing that they are the group favourites. However, what we’ve learnt is that Belgium will need to maintain a fast pace against and this is something they failed to do against Algeria.

Golden substitutions to start

Spurs duo Chadli and Dembele were disappointing while Mertens and Big Fella impressed. We expect Mertens and Fellaini to start while the Tottenham duo take place on the bench against Russia.

The Beast will shine

The high expectations of Premier League star Lukaku was far from fulfilled against Algeria. The beast, as he is commonly known, didn’t touch the ball in the last 15 minutes he was on the pitch. This was mostly because the wingers underperformed and didn’t coordinate well with Lukaku. To combat this, Wilmots could decide to start Kevin Mirallas who combined well with Lukaku at Everton. His moment will come!

Belgium’s starting line-up against Russia – What we think

But Kompany may not start due to groin injury

It is still not known if

will play because, he is suffering from a groin strain and will try training again on Saturday. Wilmots will then decide based on his training session if he is enough fit to play. One thing is sure, if Kompany is not 100% fit he will not play. It will be interesting to see if Wilmots will start Vermaelen or if he will still opt for experience and let Van Buyten start. Another option for the central back position is to use Lombaerts who unlike Van Buyten and Vermaelen, had a lot of playing time for his club Zenit. Another advantage of playing Lombaerts is that he knows the Russian players very well. Also, on the right back position Vanden Borre could start instead of Toby Alderweireld. Vanden Borre had a great season at Anderlecht and proved to be really good at helping in the offence which Alderweireld failed to do against Algeria.

Mirallas and Januzaj are expected to come on as subs during the game while the young Origi is expected to replace Lukaku at the end of the game.

What we expect from Russia

The teamrecovered from a terrible error by goalkeeper Akinfeev to restore a draw against South Korea. This was a poor performance from Russia and clearly the absence of the injured captain Rimon Shirokov was manifest.

Russia’s starting line-up – What we think

Berezoutski and Ignashevitch form a strong and experienced central back duo. They are both very hard to beat in the air but can more easily be beaten over the ground by fast wingers as Hazard and Mertens.

Danger will come from Aleksandr Kerzhakov who is a real goalgetter. He scored 5 in the qualification campaign and came in as a sub against South-Korea and scored the equaliser.

Prediction

Both teams are expected to play better in their second game of the group stage. After Russia dropped points against Korea, Belgium are still favourites to top the group. Whilst a draw is probably enough for them to win the group, Belgium have to go for a win.

On the flip side, after drawing against South Korea, Russia desperately need to win and a draw is not an option – so we may find that Russia really go for this. But seeing that their defence looked shaky against Korea, we wouldn’t be surprised if Capello parked the bus.

PREDICTION: Belgium 2-0 Russia

Long live Belgium! Vive la Belgique! Leve België!

By Roy Skop

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