Belgium vs Russia – Best of the under performers!

Belgium will face Russia this Sunday afternoon in a crucial Group H encounter. Both of these sides underperformed in their opening games and they will both be desperate for points here as they bid to make it to the next stage of the tournament. Belgium were being touted as potential winners of the 2014 World Cup, but their display against Algeria did little to enhance that view. Marc Wilmots’ side were 1-0 for most of that match but two late goals ultimately gave the Belgians all three points. The relief was clear for all to see but it was a performance which left a lot of question marks against them. Fabio Capello was equally relieved when he Russia side managed to salvage a point from their clash with South Korea. The Russians were outplayed during the early part of the contest and went a goal behind following a Lee Keunho strike after 68 minutes. Korea kept the ball very well and kept Russia’s chances to a minimum. However, Alexander Kerzhakov was able to rescue a point for his side and it leaves things in Group H very finely balanced indeed.

Having been strongly fancied to do well in Brazil this summer, Belgium looked more like an also ran during the first 69 minutes of their match against huge underdogs Algeria. Although the Belgians bossed possession of the football, it was Algeria who took the lead on the twenty five minute mark when Sofiane Feghouli converted a deserved penalty after a sloppy mistake by the Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen. As the first half continued, Belgium seemed to lack any cutting edge whatsoever and striker Romelu Lukaku definitely did not appear match fit. In fact, Lukaku did not manage a single touch inside the opposition’s area. The Premier League front man was replaced by Origi just before the sixty minute mark and that decision by manager Marc Wilmots certainly seemed to have a positive effect on his side’s performance, as did the introduction of Marouane Fellaini. The Manchester United midfielder scored within minutes of arriving on the pitch and could well start this upcoming clash with Russia. I would expect to see a few changes to the Belgium starting line up in fact following this abject performance.

There are no two ways about it, Russia were poor against South Korea in a match they will have fully expected to win. On paper at least, that should have been a much easier game for Fabio Capello’s men than that which awaits them in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. While the Russians should collect three points from their final game with Algeria, that is still no gimme, so a positive result here against Belgium is all important. I’d imagine Capello would be quite happy with a point from this game as five on the board come June 26th would likely see his team through but approach this match negatively could see Russia on the end of a heavy defeat. While neither Belgium or Russia deserve any plaudits thus far, it is the Belgium players who are likely to be in the more positive frame of mind after their come from behind win and they can add another three points here.

September 14, 2015: • No Comments

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