Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The First Round come to an End.

Today sees the final games of the 1st round as Belgium face Algeria (17/6 16.00 GMT) with Russia facing S Korea (17/6) 22.00 GMT) . Today also sees the beginning of the 2nd round of matches in the group stages, when Brazil take on Mexico (17/6 19.00 GMT) with both teams being buoyed by victories in their first matches.

Belgium are lots of peoples favourites as the dark horses of the tournament, they have a hugely talented squad of gifted young players, who ply their trade in the major European leagues. At the moment though, Belgium may lack the experience to go all the way in a major tournament. If their players stay injury free, they will be one of the favourites for Euro 2016.

Algeria have 17 French born players in their squad, in an interesting reversal of the trend where France had loads of African born players from their ex colonies on their squad. Something to watch out for, if Algeria do not score within the first 35 minutes of the game, they will become the holders of the dubious honour of having gone the longest playing time without scoring a goal in a world cup tournament. The record is at the moment held by Bolivia.

Prediction Belgium to win

S Korea have now played in 8 consecutive tournaments, an impressive record, with their best effort being a 4th place finish in 2002 in the tournament they co hosted with Japan.

Russia are interesting. They are scheduled to host the next world cup in 2018 and will be starting to build towards that target. Since becoming Russia and not the USSR, they have failed to reach the knock out stages. This time round they are managed by Fabio Capello who was the rather unsuccessful England manager in 2010. This game is too close to call and I am going to exercise my prerogative and sit on the fence here. All 3 outcomes are as likely as each other.

So concludes the 1st round of group matches. I am not going to post for the next round but will return for the final and deciding round, although I will publish a summary of what we have seen so far.

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