Belgium vs Russia Preview
The iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro has already witnessed new boys Bosnia and Herzegovina give the Argentinians a runaround and a glorious era come to an end as the Spanish mourned their first round exit. Now, dark horses Belgium are set to take on Russia as both teams look to kickstart their World Cup campaign after a mediocre performance in their opening games.
Russia started their game in the worst possible manner as a Rob Green-like error from goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev handed the South Koreans an early lead, but Fabio Capello’s side rallied to take a point as Zenit striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov bailed the former England manager out with his 26th international goal, joining Vladimir Beschastnykh as his nation’s joint-top scorer.
Winger Alan Dzagoev may force his way back into the side after his impressive display off the bench. And Capello would know that while a win would put Russia in pole position in the group, defeat could dent their chances of progress severely.
Belgium have problems of their own as they labored to a 2-1 win over Algeria following goals from substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens – which could well force Red Devils’ manager Marc Wilmots to include the duo in his team against the Russians. However, Vincent Kompany remains an injury doubt as he suffered a groin strain during his side’s 2-1 comeback win against Algeria.
The Manchester City defender missed the training sessions on Thursday and Friday and is a major doubt for the match on Sunday. Wilmots has confirmed his star defender trained away from the squad and he expects him to play some part at the Maracana.
Belgium vs Russia Lineups:
Belgium (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Buyten, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini; Mertens, Bruyne, Hazard; Lukaku.
Russia (4-2-3-1): Akinfeev; Eschenko, Berezoutski, Ignashevitch, Kombarov; Denisov, Glushakov; Samedov, Dzagoev, Kokorin; Kerzhakov.
Belgium vs Russia Prediction:
Russia looked all at sea against South Korea and Belgium at their best may well prove too good for Capello’s side. We’ll go for a 1-1 draw in this one!