The dark horse contenders meet the underdogs of the tournament in what happens to be a very easy game for Belgium. With the quality that manager Marc Wilmots has in his Belgium squad, we are widely expecting them to perform well this world cup and compete with the likes of Brazil, Germany and Spain. But they’ll need to start well and continue going strong, unlike Spain who have one of the best squads yet were thrashed in their opening match against Netherlands.
Key Players and Strategy
Begians play with flair and creativity in their ranks. The whole team is filled with young stars playing all over Europe. Marc Wilmots enjoys managing such a promising team, which can go all the way if they perform to their abilities. The team’s captain Vincent Kompany is one of the world’s finest defenders around, and having recently won the English Premier League with Manchester City by being the captain of the team as well. He leads the unit like a true boss and is technically strong as well as he is a good passer of the ball and has great defending and organising skills.
The back line would be expected to be filled with the likes of Toby Alderweirald playing at Right Back, which is not his natural position but his secondary one, despite which he gives strong performances playing that role whenever asked by his club Atletico Madrid or Belgium. Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen is expected to partner Vincent Kompany at central defence while Arsenal Captain Thomas Vermaelen, who has had a rocky season with Arsenal being in and out of the side is expected to fill in at Left Back just like Alderweirald. Vermaelen is a good attacking centre back, but at left back, he is a much more balanced player. In spite of this, we can still expect Vertonghen to play Left Back if Vermaelen wants to play central as both players are capable of the positions. Though we may not expect Belgian back four to participate much in offense, we can be sure of their super solid defending as they have been really consistent in the qualifiers.
Belgium like to play a 4-3-3 formation with the likes Zenit and Tottenham stars Axel Witsel and Moussa Dembele playing box to box roles and the new Wolfsburg signing from Chelsea, Kevin de Bruyne playing as the chief advanced playmaker for the team.
Belgian forward line is extremely star studded as the striker is mostly going to be Chelsea’s youngster Romelu Lukaku, who is recovering after a minor ankle injury while the wings would have the likes of another Chelsea star Eden Hazard who would be the most important player for the Belgians. Hazard has been in sensational form in the English Premier League after single-handedly driving the transitional Chelsea team’s attack while in Belgium he has had a few ups and downs in his form. He has shown remarkable consistency in work rate when he was well coached by Jose Mourinho, but a recent calf injury reduced his desire to defend, giving the media something to talk about his decreasing defensive work-rate. Yet, a lot would depend on the Belgian number 10 to destroy the opposition defences and create chances for the big man Romelu Lukaku. The other wing would either be filled in by Napoli’s Dries Mertens or Everton’s Kevin Mirallas.
Another Chelsea man, Thibaut Courtois would be playing the goalkeeper for the Belgians, who at age 21, is already regarded as one of the world’s best keepers. Courtois and the defence along with the midfield and the offense sum up a really star studded Belgium national team.
Algeria are exact opposite in comparison to Belgium when we compare star power. The Algerians are relatively unknown and have much lesser European competitions’ presence. They enter the competition in decent form after winning all three friendlies they faced, but still they would require a hell lot more from the team to beat a rampant Belgium.
Gaolkeeper M’Bohli is expected to lead the line for the team and the back four is likely to be the regular functioning bunch of players – Mostefa, Bougherra, Cadamuro and Ghoulam. They would need to be on their toes and practically play as stoppers without any attacking impetus if they want to stop the likes of Hazard, de Bruyne, Mirallas and Lukaku from beating them all ends up. The centre backs would especially be wary of big “Tank” Lukaku.
In a 4-3-3 formation, the midfield has young star Nabeel Bentaleb of Tottenham who has surprised the Premier League with his number of appearances in the league and has also chosen his birth country instead of France. His speciality is his passing, as he likes to make the others play and get a hold on the game. Bentaleb would also have to be at his defensive best to get possession back from formidable opposition. Central midfield will be completed by compatriots Medjani and Taider.
Attack would have main player Feghouli of Valencia who would be the attacking impetus and the threat for Belgian defence. His trickery and finishing would be very important for his team to mount any sort of challenge against the formidable Begian defence.
Score and Team sheet
Belgium Probable line-up: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; Dembele, Witsel, de Bruyne; Hazard, Lukaku, Mirallas
Algeria Probable Line-up: M’Bolhi; Mostefa, Bougherra, Ghoulam, Cadamuro; Taider, Medjani, Bentaleb; Soudani, Djabou, Feghouli
Belgium 3-0 Algeria
Belgium have too much quality for Algeria. This is expected to be a really easy starter for the Dark Horses of the Cup. We may have a strong fighting Algerian team which would work to stop Belgium by defending deep and counter attacking through Feghouli, but Belgium is expected to beat them without much hustle.