FIFA World Cup 2014 at a Glance: Group H

Group H seems to be a straightforward group. It includes Algeria, Belgium, Russia and South Korea. If everything goes to plan then Belgium and Russia, the two strongest teams on paper should progress. However soccer rarely goes according to plan.

Group H

Team: Algeria

Manager: Vahid Halilhodžić

Path to Qualification:

Algeria was placed in CAF’s Group H during the penultimate qualifying phase. They bested Mali, Benin and Rwanda to top their group and proceed to the playoffs. There they drew 3-3 with Burkina, confirming their place in the World Cup finals on the away goals rule.

The Game Changers:

The Algerian national team has not played against any of their group opponents in the World Cup before. So they have the element of surprise with them. If the other teams underestimate the Algerians, then Algeria could very well capitalize and make them pay.

World Cup History:

Total Appearances: 4
Best Finish: Group Stage

Prediction for the Group: 4th

The Algerians are placed in a tough group, one which could very well hold many surprises. However, I do not see the minnows upsetting the Belgium or Russia, though they might sneak a draw against South Korea. However, they still remain the most probable team to finish at the bottom of the group.

Interesting Fact:

The Algerian National team has an overall winning percentage of 39.73 percent. This includes all their competitive games against other countries.

Team: Belgium

Manager: Marc Wilmots

Path to Qualification:

Belgium was placed in UEFA’s Group A during the qualification phase against the likes of Wales, Croatia, Serbia, Scotland and Macedonia. The team posted an unbeaten qualification campaign and won eight out of their ten games while drawing two.

The Game Changers:

The Belgium squad features a potent mixture of the young and experienced. This is definitely Belgium’s golden generation and the squad has the ability to cause serious damage on the international scene. Players like Eden Hazard and Romel Lukaku have already established themselves as world class players and under the leadership of Premier League stalwarts Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany, the squad can do some serious damage.

World Cup History:

Total Appearances 12
Best Finish 4th in 1986

Prediction for the Group: 1st

The Red Devils have the potential to go far in this year’s tournament. So I think they will escape the group at a canter. The only real challenge they might face is from the Russians, and even if the Russians do manage to beat them, the Belgiansquad has the ability to dispatch Algeria and South Korea with ease. So they are definitely going to the next round.

Interesting Fact:

Current manager of the Belgium team, Marc Wilmots also holds the record of being Belgium’s leading goal scorer in the World Cup.

Team: Russia

Manager: Fabio Capello

Path to Qualification:

Russia was placed in UEFA’s Group F during qualification along with Portugal, Israel, Northern Ireland, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan. Russia topped this tricky group by winning seven games, losing one and drawing two. They scored twenty goals in the process and conceded only five.

The Game Changers:

The former AC Milan and Real Madrid manager, Fabio Capello, has a wealth of experience on competing at the highest level of world soccer. His tenure at these clubs has resulted in a cabinet full of silverware. Considered by many to be one of the best in the business, Capello will give a tactical edge to the Russian team, no matter who their opponent is: he is that good. However, it remains to be seen if the squad can adopt his philosophy on the pitch.

World Cup History:

Total Appearances: 3 (Not counting the USSR days)
Best Finish Group Stage (Not counting the USSR days)

Prediction for the Group: 2nd

This is a very talented Russian side helmed by one of the most accomplished tactical managers in recent years. So the odds are in favor of the Russians to progress to the next round. I place them second because I think the sheer quality of the Belgian players will overpower the Russian squad, but with the tactical genius of Fabio Capello, you never know.

Interesting Fact:

The Russians have only proceeded once past the group stage of an international tournament (not counting USSR days), and that was in Euro 2008.

Team: South Korea

Manager: Hong Myung-Bo

Path to Qualification:

South Korea was placed in Group A of the fourth round of the AFC qualifiers where they had to face the likes of Iran, Uzbekistan, Qatar and Lebanon. The South Koreans were runners up in the group behind Iran, albeit by just two points. They scored thirteen goals and conceded seven during this stage.

The Game Changers:

South Korea does not have the best squad in the world, but they have several players who ply their trade in the top leagues in the world. These players will bring a wealth of experience with them and can help guide the team through difficult stages in a game.

World Cup History:

Total Appearances: 9
Best Finish: 4th Place (2002)

Prediction for the Group: 3rd

The South Koreans no longer have the services of their golden generation, which reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2002. Most of their players are unknown beyond South Korea, however players like Arsenal’s Park Chu-Young, Swansea’s Ki Sung-Yeung and Bayern Leverkusen’s Song Heung-Min can help steer the South Koreans to victory against Algeria. I however do not see them beating either Russia or Belgium.

Interesting fact:

The South Koreans have participated in eight consecutive World Cups, the most by any Asian team.

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Ivy Oscar is a professional writer and blogger from Magnolia, Delaware. She likes to write about music, sports, celebrities and all the good things in life.
Categories: Soccer, Sports

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