How quickly have those opening five days passed? By the end of Day 6 of the World Cup, we will have seen every one of the 32 participating teams in action, and of the 28 we've watched so far, each one has played their respective part in making this showcase a fascinating spectacle.
The teams from Group H—the last nations to kick off their tournaments—must be itching to go at this juncture, while the world will be watching intently once again as host nation Brazil play their second game of the competition, going toe-to-toe with Mexico.
Let’s take a look at the trio of contests set to be played out on Day 6 and how these vital fixtures are set to effect the final group standings.
Belgium have stirred up plenty of anticipation ahead of the tournament and finally get their World Cup underway against Algeria. Marc Wilmots’ side are bristling with effervescent young players and there’s no reason why the Red Devils can’t make a deep run into the tournament should the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard perform to their best.
They also have a major advantage in that they will not have to travel far during their group games, as noted here by Bleacher Report's Cristian Nyari:
Belgium not only have a favorable group, but the smallest travel distance and some of the mildest temperatures. Should cruise in group stage— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) June 11, 2014
In Algeria they will be facing very capable opponents. The Fennec Foxes may be synonymous with their dreary performances in the 2010 tournament, but they are a much more expansive, entertaining outfit nowadays. If they can preserve that cohesiveness while adding a little more attacking flair to their game, they are very capable of getting out the group.
Algeria will find it tough against Belgium, though. This young Red Devils team has a real spark about them at the moment, and while Algeria will make the game tight, they just don’t have enough to keep them out for long spells.
The second clash in Group H also looks set to be an intriguing battle, as South Korea and Russia go head-to-head. The latter are managed by legendary manager Fabio Capello, who will be hoping to fare better than he did in his first major international tournament, when his deplorable England side were knocked out in the round of 16 at South Africa 2010.
The Italian has tried to blood some new talent into this Russia XI in an attempt to instil some much-needed diligence, but they could meet their match against a South Korean team that will be typically industrious in their efforts.
In truth, both Russia and South Korea are teams undergoing transitional phases in their development. So expect Belgium and Algeria to make it out of the group, with the Red Devils topping the table.
No African team has won a game in the tournament so far, so Algeria will be hoping to start a renaissance for the continent with a strong performance in the group stage. B/R's Dan Colasimone thinks they can shock a few:
Poor tournament for the African teams so far. I feel like Algeria could surprise people, though.— Dan Colasimone (@ArgentinaFW) June 16, 2014
The Fennec Foxes may seem a bold pick, but they been have quietly progressive since the tournament in South Africa, and with players like Sofiane Feghouli and Saphir Taider within their ranks, Algeria now have a creativity to complement their cohesiveness.
Prediction to Qualify: Belgium (Winners) and Algeria (runners-up)
After recovering from a goal down to beat Croatia in their tournament opener, hosts Brazil will be hoping to put one foot in the last 16 with a win over Mexico in their second game.
Before a backdrop of fervent fandom, the Selecao were able to recover from a goal down to win 3-1 in the competition curtain-raiser, and Luiz Felipe Scolari will be hoping for more magic from the likes of Neymar and Oscar to help secure their second win in succession.
But Mexico seem to have found their form at the right time and were impressive in their 1-0 win over Cameroon last time out. El Tri are typically a side that give Brazil plenty of problems when they lock horns, too. Most recently, a brace from Oribe Peralta sunk the Selecao in the final of the Olympics—a competition both nations take very seriously—to break Brazilian hearts.
Who will qualify from Group A with Brazil?
But the World Cup—especially a World Cup in Brazil—is a completely different animal. It’s difficult to see past another Brazil victory given the backing and the quality they possess, meaning Mexico will have a keen eye on Group A’s other game in the second round of matches when Cameroon and Croatia face off on Day 7.
If win from the latter of the aforementioned duo sets up a mouthwatering third game between the two to determine who qualifies for the knockout stages. With quality in their ranks like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic, Croatia have enough to get the better of Cameroon. They should also just have enough to edge past El Tri in the final game and book their place in the last 16.
Prediction to Qualify: Brazil (winners) and Croatia (runners-up)