It was a Saturday filled with surprising results at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Our pick on the Over in the Argentina/Iran match looked doomed from the start, with Iran’s staunch defensive tactics proving difficult to break through. Germany also struggled in their match against the speedy Ghanaians, while yet another officiating decision marred the Nigeria victory over Bosnia. As we move on to Sunday, it’s crunch time in Brazil and today we’ll feature two squads desperately seeking better efforts from their first match.
Belgium was supposed to be the tournament dark-horses everyone predicted to go deep in Brazil. However after a very sluggish opening match performance against Algeria, the skeptics are out in full force. Belgium went down 1-0 against the African side, before storming back to escape with a narrow 2-1 victory. Belgium knows they made mistakes and vowed they will play better against the Russians today. They were far from convincing, and it won’t get any easier taking on a formidable Russian side that can frustrate superior opponents. One big concern for Belgium entering this fixture is the status of their captain Vincent Kompany. The Manchester City defensive stalwart is battling a groin strain, but should be able to go by kick-off today.
The Russians began their 2014 World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against South Korea. It was a very tense battle and neither squad wanted to lose. That was a result that suited both sides, but Russia will need to accumulate points in their next two matches if they are to advance. One thing Russia will do is defend. Manager Fabio Capello is renowned for his defensive tactics, and against a very offensive Belgian squad, look for the Russians to play solid defense, and hit the Belgians sleeping on the counter-attack. It promises to be an intriguing day of Group H action in Brazil, and read on below for our official game selection.
Belgium vs. Russia Betting Odds:
Belgium (-120) / Draw (+275) / Russia (+320)
Over 2.5 (+110) / Under 2.5 (-130)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Belgium vs. Russia Pick:
You can bank on a much better effort from Belgium their second time around. Perhaps the weight of expectations got to them, or they underrated Algeria, but Belgium can play a lot better than they showed last week and look for them to do just that. And though the Russians do possess a resilient defense, the vast array of attacking options and creativity at Belgium’s disposal does not bode well for Fabio Capello’s tactics. They can defend for 90 minutes, much like Iran did yesterday, but eventually Belgium will be able to break them down and find the back of the net.
More was expected from Russia in their opening game against South Korea. Unfortunately they resembled a team with very little innovation moving forward. They lacked pace and flair in attack, and despite their rash of injuries prior to the tournament, they don’t look like a squad capable of knocking off the Belgians.
Look for Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard to be the key to a Belgium victory in this match-up. Russia will look to play the same way the Algerians did – with a deep-lying back-line and at least ten players behind the ball. The speedy Belgian is capable of unlocking a tight defense. His flair, creativity, and vision is tough to guard against and his match-up against Russia’s right back Andrey Yeschenko is extremely favourable. Marc Wilmots made excellent substitutions against Algeria, putting on both Dries Mertens and Marouane Fellaini. Both midfielders scored and should provide an added boost from the start against Russia.
Ultimately, expect the patient approach adopted by Belgium to win out in this one. Now that they’ve seen how teams will play them, manager Marc WIlmots is bright enough to make the necessary adjustments. Belgium’s speed on attack and creativity with their offense will puzzle an unimaginative and slow defense of the Russians. With the injury to Roman Shirokov, this Russian squad just isn’t a threat for goals, and as a result Belgium should be able to escape with a victory to nil on Sunday. A 1 or 2-0 score-line seems fitting for this Group H encounter.
PICK = Belgium (-120)
Bonus Pick = Under 2.5 Goals (-130)