By the end of Tuesday, all 32 FIFA World Cup participants will have at least one completed match in the ledger.
Group H will become the last quadrant to make their 2014 World Cup debut, lacing up for the first time on Tuesday with Belgium facing Algeria and Russia taking on the Korea Republic. While squads from Group A-G have all knocked one fixture out of the way, these Group H clubs all enjoy a fresh slate filled with endless possibilities.
Meanwhile, Brazil and Mexico will return to the pitch in a battle of the Group A favorites to advance. The hosting nation will yet again have a vivacious crowd on their side as they look to gain sole possession atop of the group leaderboard.
|2014 FIFA World Cup Standings|
Here is a look at all matches set for what should be an eventful Day 6.
|Day 6 Schedule|
|Belgium vs. Algeria||12 p.m.||ESPN|
|Brazil vs. Mexico||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|Russia vs. Korea Republic||6 p.m.||ESPN|
Belgium vs. Algeria
Odds: Algeria +989, Belgium -291, Draw +450
Ranked 48th four years ago, Belgium have matured into a global force since the last World Cup, now entering the tournament at No. 11 in the FIFA world rankings. After failing to qualify for the last two events, they're now the favorite in a manageable Group H.
The team revolves around a vicious attack that guts through the heart of opposing defenses. Romelu Lukaku, who compiled 15 goals through 29 Premier League fixtures for Everton, will look to set the framework for the Belgians. Don't count on the 21-year-old striker fearing the moment.
“I love pressure, I embrace it,” Lukaku said in a Reuters report, via The Guardian. “If you are scared of pressure then you cannot play well.”
He'll have plenty of help with a swarming midfield led by Eden Hazard, the 23-year-old Chelsea star who completed 83.9 percent of his passes in Premier League and Champions League play this season, per WhoScored.
Look for Algeria, who have not scored a World Cup goal since 1986, to play conservatively in hopes of preserving a low-scoring affair. They'll have to bully Belgium's swifter attack, knowing a high-flying affair will bode poorly for them, but don't expect their old-school style to pay off against the young, fiery Red Devils.
Prediction: Belgium 3, Algeria 0
Brazil vs. Mexico
Odds: Mexico +875, Brazil -275, Draw+472
Each squad took care of business in their opening fixtures, with Brazil toppling Croatia in front of the ecstatic home crowd while Mexico managed three points over Cameroon, despite Giovani dos Santos losing a pair of goals due to questionable offside penalties.
The Selecao defend their home turf with pride, having won their last 38 matches in Brazil. They also fare well against Mexico in World Cup play, sweeping their three matches at an aggregate score of 11-0. History is on the favorite's side
For their standards, Thursday's opening 3-1 victory over Croatia was nothing too impressive. They controlled possession for a modest 58 percent of the fixture and compiled 14 shot attempts to Croatia's 10.
Neymar, however, provided individual brilliance with two goals. Mexico won't be able to rest on their heels with the 22-year-old star wreaking havoc and creating space for Oscar and Fred.
Mexico will need another incredible performance from striker Oribe Peralta, who put El Tri on the board with a winner over Cameroon. While the 30-year-old is up to the task, Brazil features too much firepower to derail on their soil.
Prediction: Brazil 3, Mexico 2
Russia vs. Korea Republic
Odds: Korea Republic +375, Russia -116, Draw+269
Russia and South Korea won't offer the star power of most other matchups, nor is either club considered a legitimate threat to inflict much damage past the group stage. Yet their fixture is an exciting opportunity for each squad to start the tournament with three points.
While South Korea has qualified for each of the past eight World Cups, they passed the group stage twice, including a fourth-place finish when they played as the home team in 2002. Russia, on the other hand, earned a World Cup appearance for the first time since 2002. They'll look to stamp a ticket to the knockout stage for the first time.
South Korea is coming off a 4-0 loss to Ghana in a warm-up game that made them look ice cold, but Russia has not lost any of their last 10 matches. Fabio Capello's club doesn't boast many marquee names with injured captain Roman Shirokov sidelined, but the manager will hope that 23-year-old Aleksandr Kokorin becomes one after posting four goals in eight qualifying fixtures.
The battle for possession will dictate how Tuesday's final match plays out. Although neither side would relish a draw, a consolation point allows both of them to live another day in their quest to make it out of Group H.
Prediction: Russia 1, Korea Republic 1
Note: All odds are courtesy of Odds Shark
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