GROUP H – Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea
The last group in the pecking order is one that is undeniably headlined by Belgium. Their first appearance in the World Cup since 2002, Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ comprises of several world beaters including Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku. However with great power comes great responsibility, and the rest of the group will be itching to cause an upset by overturning the Red Devil’s. Despite this potential pressure, you just can’t look past Belgium to top the group, yet stranger things have happened in the World Cup.
The proverbial underdogs of the group, Algeria will be hard pressed to progress beyond the group stages. We’ll remember them for that dismal goalless draw in Cape Town but Algeria will be hoping they can go one better against the rest of Group H. English fans will recognise Tottenham youngster Nabil Bentaleb and newly promoted Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez, while powerhouse striker Islam Slimani has the ability to score big goals.
After a disappointing tenure with England, Fabio Capello will be striving to banish the demons of the past in Brazil this summer as manager of Russia. Having only conceded five goals in qualifying, Russia will be looking towards the talented Alan Dzagoev to carve out opportunities for front men Artem Dzyuba and Alexander Kerzhakov. The bookies favourites to follow Belgium into the last 16, Russia will need a positive result in their opener against Algeria to give themselves the best possible chance of doing so.
Two knockout appearances in the past three World Cups suggests South Korea have a decent chance of navigating their way out of the group. Sunderland’s Ki Sung-Yueng and Cardiff City’s Kim Bo-Kyung are both fine technicians in the centre of the park, but all eyes will be on Leverkusen’s wonderkid Son Heung-Min. The 21 year old is two-footed, absolutely rapid and with 10 goals from midfield for his club this season he could be the integral component in South Korea’s push for the last 16.
- South Korea