Group play continues on Day 6 of the 2014 World Cup, and the pressure is on for weaker teams scheduled to face stronger competition.
The first five days have seen many matchups of lower teams against upper-echelon teams, but the underdogs have performed surprisingly well. Costa Rica defeated Uruguay, 3-1, and Spain even dropped its game to the Netherlands, 5-1.
Will we see more surprising results on Day 6?
To prepare yourself, consult the odds I've included in my predictions for Day 6 of this epic tournament, courtesy of Odds Shark on June 16. But first, take a look at the schedule of play.
|June 17||12 p.m.||H||Belgium vs. Algeria||ESPN|
|June 17||3 p.m.||A||Brazil vs. Mexico||ESPN|
|June 17||6 p.m.||H||Russia vs. South Korea||ESPN|
Belgium vs. Algeria (Group H)
Belgium's roster is loaded with talent. Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Nacer Chadli are just a few names that pop off the page when perusing the 23-man roster. Overall, Belgium is a young team with incredible attacking power.
This gives Belgium an immediate advantage over Algeria. Algeria appeared in the 2010 World Cup, but the team scored no goals and failed to make it past the group round. Algeria is hot right now, however. It defeated Ivory Coast last week and has won 12 of 13 pre-World Cup matches.
But Algeria lacks playmakers. In a matchup against a team with incredible stars, Algeria falls short. Islam Slimani and Madjid Bougherra are the lone players to watch, putting Algeria at a huge disadvantage.
This should be a pretty one-sided affair.
Prediction: Belgium 4, Algeria 0
Russia vs. Korea Republic (Group H)
Russia needs to play well in this World Cup in order to create anticipation for 2018, when it will host the tournament. That said, it will be difficult for Russia to succeed without its captain. Roman Shirokov will miss the World Cup with an Achilles tendon injury, and coach Fabio Capello knows that is a tough loss, via Dmitriy Rogovitskiy of Yahoo Sports.
"Shirokov plays a big role in the team but now others have the opportunity to show what they are capable of doing," Capello said. "I am one of those people who believes that the glass is always half full."
Russia will attempt to compete with Korea Republic on Day 6, but the Koreans are very fast and play with high energy. When Russia loses its legs in the final portion of the game, Korea Republic will still be playing fast. Its best weapon, 21-year-old Son Heung-Min, already has five career international goals.
Korea Republic will lean on him in this one.
Prediction: Korea Republic 2, Russia 1
Brazil vs. Mexico (Group A)
Mexico earned three points against Cameroon thanks to this goal from Oribe Peralta:
Brazil also has three points, so the winner of this match will advance to the next round. Both teams are very strong, however, so it will be interesting to see how this match plays out. Neither looked particularly strong in its first game, even if both resulted in wins.
Mexico controlled Cameroon, but it took Mexico far too long to net the game-winner. Brazil scored three goals against Croatia, but Neymar was responsible for two of them. The rest of the team appeared nervous, as the home crowd was putting immense pressure on the side.
Having overcome said pressures, it's unlikely that Brazil will drop this match. It is one of the top teams in this year's tournament.
Prediction: Brazil 2, Mexico 1