5 Things for Belgium Fans to Look Forward to in Wake of Win vs. Algeria
On Tuesday, the Rode Duivels beat Algeria 2-1 in what was Belgium's opening match of the World Cup in Brazil.
As the scoreline suggests, it wasn't an easy win for the Belgians. Until halfway through the second half, the Rode Duivels were trailing. It wasn't until substitutions Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens came on that Belgium became dominant.
Above all, then, the match was educative. Here, we take a look at five things Belgium fans can look forward to following their team's win against Algeria.
Dries Mertens on the Right
For a long time, it wasn't clear who would play as Belgium's right-winger. But after his winning goal against Algeria late in the second half, surely Mertens has settled the debate.
Where Kevin De Bruyne, who was later moved to the centre, seemed unable to take defenders on and dribble past them, Mertens offered much more of an attacking threat.
Should Mertens start in manager Marc Wilmots' first XI in Belgium's next match, which is against Russia, Belgian fans will surely be happy to see some dribbling skills added to their creative attack force.
Origi Might Have a Role to Play
During the first half, Belgium failed to score a single goal, and the Rode Duivels' attacking line seemed largely powerless against the deep-lying Algerian defence.
Romelu Lukaku, the striker appointed to replace the injured Christian Benteke in the first XI, failed to make an impression.
Divock Origi, who replaced Lukaku in the second half, didn't score either, but the Lille youngster did manage to add flair to a seemingly powerless Belgian attack force.
Perhaps Wilmots will decide to give Origi even more playing time against Russia, and perhaps the striker will play a bigger role in Belgium's World Cup campaign than was expected.
Witsel Dominating the Midfield
While Belgium's creative and attacking midfielders Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli and Eden Hazard failed to make much of an impression against Algeria, holding midfielder Axel Witsel showed he's the ideal man for Belgium to play as the anchor.
Constantly dominating the area around the halfway line, Witsel offered the stability needed for the rest of the midfield to attack.
Surely, Witsel will be one of the first names on the teamsheet against Russia. Belgium fans can expect a lot from Witsel this World Cup.
Fellaini Can Still Score
At Everton, his previous club, Fellaini often played in an advanced position. From there, he was able to pose a genuine goalscoring threat.
But as a Manchester United player, Fellaini never showed any of the abilities he showed at Everton, his deeper position on the pitch taken into account.
The idea of Fellaini being the type of player who can score and change things around seemed laughable this past season.
Against Algeria, however, Fellaini's goal got Belgium back into the match. Apparently, Fellaini can still be dangerous in front of goal, especially if he's fed long balls and crosses.
No one expected Fellaini to be in Belgium's top category of players this World Cup, but if he keeps this up, he might prove to be invaluable.
Wilmots Has a Back-Up Plan
Starting with Moussa Dembele, Chadli, De Bruyne and Hazard, Marc Wilmots packed an overdose of creativity into Belgium's midfield.
But against Algeria's deep-sitting defence, the Rode Duivels' creative players failed to make much of an impact.
Luckily, Wilmots had a back-up plan. Bringing on the strong Fellaini and the quick Mertens, he switched to a more direct approach.
This worked like a charm. The substitutions turned the match around, and Belgium won.
In this way, Belgium showed they're not all about creativity and short passes: They also have the players for an all-or-nothing approach.
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