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World Cup Preview: Group H

I preview Group H of the 2014 World Cup. Group H contains Belgium, Russia, South Korea and Algeria.

Alexandre Loureiro

This is no clear cut group. The Belgian's high expectations could be a major down fall to Marc Wilmots' side whilst the growing reputation of Algeria and South Korea could spring a few surprises in Brazil this summer.

Belgium: A serious dark horse of the competition with some real quality in their squad. Their high tempo possession game pins their opponents deep inside their own half. Tricky wide men in Eden Hazard and Kevin Mirallas will provide plenty width with attacking presence in Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke giving the attacking midfielders a focal point to play off. Coach Marc Wilmots recently convinced Man United Starlet Adnan Januzaj to select Belgium as his national side and will be hoping stars such as Januzaj will perform this summer in Rio. The Belgians could choke on the expectation that they have obtained ahead of the World Cup but I expect them to progress.

Key Player- Eden Hazard, Chelsea attacking midfielder has been in great form for the Blues this season, his pace and skill has inspired a somewhat bare Chelsea front line. Hazard’s imagination will give Belgium extra firepower and attacking presence. What a player Eden Hazard will become.

Prediction-1st-last 16

Russia- The Russians and Fabio Capello’ s side are predominantly made up of CSKA Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg players.Not known to many in England, the Russian squad is full of exciting young players that have been adapted to play high tempo pressing football but could the radical change in conditions prove too much for the Russians?

Key Player- Alex Kokorin, an exciting attacking player that can play anywhere in a front line be it in the hole, out wide or up front. Kokorin scored 4 in 8 qualifiers that set Capello’s side on their way to Rio. Someone who we could be seeing on the big European stage in coming seasons.

Prediction- 3rd

South Korea-Their 8th consecutive World Cup Finals, the Taeguk Warriors are now seen as a giant in Asian football.  Coach Hong Myung-Bo has embraced Fifa’s gift of the 2002 World Cup and transformed South Korea into a problem side for the major footballing countries. Advancing to the last 16 however could be too much.

Key Player-Son Heung Min, Bayer Leverkusen’s midfield maestro will certainly be a key part in South Korea’s summer, whilst he supports their attack he can also score some goals. He proved a real handful for the Manchester United defence in the Champions League this season.

Prediction- 4th

Algeria: Certainly a team not to be underestimated, Algeria have come on leaps and bounds in terms of producing a high calibre of players from grassroots level to their ever growing reputation of a professional league. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic has inherited a very promising squad of players, a squad according to Maradona who could "Cause a few upsets". The Greens have it all to play for in Group H with no "Big Team" in it claiming top spot with a certain authority. The Desert Foxes Possibilities according to Rivaldo of reaching the second round are abundant. Algeria are no longer the whipping boys of the international stage, they certainly can cause a few problems being the only Arab nation heading to Brazil.

Key Player-Nabil Bentaleb, the 18 year old has surged on to the Premier League scene this year making a handful of appearances at the heart of the Tottenham midfield. The White Hart Lane faithful have high hopes for Bentaleb and the World Cup could be a stepping stone onto regular first team football should he shine bright in Brazil.

Prediction-2nd-Last 16