Group H: Belgium vs. Algeria

What’s at stake

Belgium is widely considered to be a dark horse in Brazil. It has won five out of five qualifying games at home, and won eight of ten qualifying matches overall. They are the ones to watch — at least in Group H.

Algeria’s road to the World Cup was a little unsteady, but it booked its ticket to Brazil with the help of a solid backfield.

Impact players

  • Belgium: Vincent Kompany. A stalwart on Man City’s Premiership-winning back line, Kompany is captain of this powerful Belgian side.
  • Algeria: Madjid Bougherra. A tough defender, Bougherra is his team’s captain. He wants to lead his squad out of the group stage for the first time.

What to watch for

Belgium likes to dominate possession, and has speed and agility in the wings. Les Diables Rouges want the ball, and they want Hazard to score often.

Algeria made it through qualifying against some fairly easy teams. It really needs to step things up when facing world-class squads in Brazil, starting with Belgium.

There’s very little history between these two teams, as they’ve played each other only twice. Belgium won 3-1 in a 2003 friendly in their most recent match, and battled to a scoreless draw in their first head-to-head, also a friendly.

They said it

  • "The way I play I can sometimes seem nonchalant,” Eden Hazard told The Daily Mail in response to criticism that he wasn’t giving it his all.
  • “Since taking over Algeria, I have worked without talking too much because it is the work that pays. I try to talk less and work work,” Algerian manager Vahid Halilhodzic told FIFA.com.

The Big Number 

37 — If Algeria doesn’t score before 37 minutes in this opening match it will break the all-time World Cup scoring drought of 517 minutes. Its last World Cup goal came in 1986 against Northern Ireland.

Obligatory Fun Fact

There’s something about June 17 for Belgium. It played the highest-scoring draw in World Cup history — 4-4 against England — on June 17, 1954. Then, on June 17 2002, Belgium played their last match in the World Cup up to now.