The stakes will be high in all three of the 2014 World Cup matches played on Sunday, with every team still very much alive in the race for the final knockout stage tickets.
Group H might be the most balanced group of the entire tournament, while Portugal can't afford to drop any points against the USA following their 4-0 defeat to Germany. Injuries and suspensions are already playing a major factor early in the tournament, and Sunday's slate of fixtures will be impacted by both.
Let's have a look at the schedule for Matchday 11, including full TV and live stream info:
|Time (BST)||Time (ET)||Match||TV Info||Live Stream|
|5 p.m.||12 p.m.||Belgium v Russia||ABC/BBC1||WatchESPN/BBC iPlayer|
|8 p.m.||3 p.m.||Korea Republic v Algeria||ABC/ITV||WatchESPN/ ITV Player|
|11 p.m.||6 p.m.||USA v Portugal||ESPN/BBC1||WatchESPN/BBC iPlayer|
Belgium vs. Russia
The two favourites in Group H both struggled during their opening fixtures, but while Belgium made the proper adjustments to walk away with three points, Russia failed to overcome a feisty Korean team.
The Red Devils' movement in the first half was subpar, and an early penalty goal gave opponents Algeria a surprise lead. Relying too much on individual brilliance, Belgium were unable to find pockets of space against a very solid defensive unit.
Coach Marc Wilmots introduced both power and pace with Marouna Fellaini, Dries Mertens and Divock Origi, and with Kevin de Bruyne shifting to a central role, Belgium looked like an entirely different team.
The combination of Nacer Chadli and Mousa Dembele can be a strong one, but both players have a tendency to slow down the ball tremendously. Look for one of the two to make way for a more dynamic presence in midfield against a talented Russian team.
Fabio Capello left two of his most consistent performers on the bench in Russia's opening match, and somewhat unsurprisingly, both Alan Dzagoev and Aleksandr Kerzhakov played a big role as substitutes in the team's come-from-behind draw with Korea.
The Italian manager has refused to comment on whether Dzagoev or Kerzhakov will start against the Red Devils, but given Belgium's talented midfield triangle, Russia could use all the help they can get in the centre of the pitch.
The last time these two teams met, Belgium easily handled the Russians, winning 2-0. Interestingly, Igor Akinfeev was at fault for Belgium's first goal in that match, and he'll want to make up for the massive error he made against Korea.
Prediction: Belgium 2-0 Russia
Korea Republic vs. Algeria
Korea's preparations for the tournament couldn't have gone much worse, and their performance against Russia was a pleasant surprise for fans of the team. The defence looked solid, and while the Koreans weren't able to muster a lot of chances, the final score accurately reflected their performance.
Algeria came very close to upsetting the Belgians, and their excellent defensive work deserves a lot of credit. The Algerians were able to keep the pace of the match very low, and they made sure that the talented Red Devils had almost no space to work with.
Both teams impressed defensively, but they were unable to really do much on the offensive end. Neutral fans won't like the prospect of sitting through 90 minutes of these two teams going at it.
Algeria will be forced to hold on to the ball more against the Koreans, chasing their Group H rivals by a single point. Saphir Taider looked comfortable handling the big stage against Belgium, and with Carl Medjani giving the team a nice buffer in front of the defence, he can afford to take risks moving forward.
Ki Sung-yueng was Korea's brightest spot in midfield against Russia, and his skills in distributing the ball were very evident during the first half, as shared by Squawka:
The midfield battle will determine which team will get the better looks on goal, and with both sides relatively uncomfortable making the play, the final result could depend on only a handful of chances.
Prediction: Korea Republic 0-1 Algeria
USA vs. Portugal
Sunday's main event in no doubt the Group G clash between Portugal and the USA. While the Yanks finally overcome their Ghanaian rivals at a World Cup, Portugal ran into a dominant German team and came away with a 4-0 loss, a suspension for Pepe and a number of injuries.
PhysioRooms.com shared the dire state the team is in right now:
Fabio Coentrao still believes his teammates can overcome the odds, as he told reporters before boarding a plane back to Europe, via Inside Spanish Football's Tom Conn:
I think my teammates will bring us joy and Cristiano will have his day against the United States.
Of course, after a 4-0 loss, things are more complicated, but the atmosphere within the camp is still great and on Sunday, we shall overcome.
The USA are hurting as well, with Jozy Altidore forced to leave the pitch with an injury against Ghana. Chris Wondolowski doesn't think he can just come in and replace the striker, though his comparison may be pushing it bit, via Sky Football's Matthew Stranger:
Chris Wondolowski on replacing Jozy Altidore for #USA: “Jozy is a special player – that’s like saying ‘hey, go be Cristiano Ronaldo.’”— Matthew Stanger (@MatthewStanger) June 21, 2014
The Yanks did a formidable job winning the midfield battle against Ghana, and thanks to their dominance in that area of the pitch, they were largely able to neutralize the threats coming from the wings.
A similar tactical plan against Portugal will be needed, as they field arguably the best wide player in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo hardly saw the ball against Germany, who used a high press to cut off passing lanes between Portugal's forwards and the advancing midfielders. If Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones can do the same, the Yanks might just be able to take advantage of Portugal's severely weakened back line.
Prediction: USA 2-2 Portugal