2014 FIFA World Cup – Group H
Thursday, June 12 – Sunday, July 13, 2014
Host Nation: Brazil
Defending Champion: Spain
All odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook
Group H is the last of the groups in the 2014 World Cup to get underway Tuesday. The group favorite is Belgium. However, Russia, Algeria, and South Korea are all quality sides as well.
Let’s take a look at the teams in the Group H with their odds to win the group and the World Cup courtesy of Bookmaker.
Belgium (Group -175, World Cup +1400)
Belgium is making their 12th appearance overall in the World Cup and first since 2002. Belgium played in six straight World Cups from 1982-2002. Belgium finished fourth in 1986 their best finish. In 2002, Belgium lost to eventual champion Brazil in the round of 16.
Belgium is #11 in the FIFA World Rankings. Belgium went 8-0-2 for 26 points in their UEFA qualifying group, beating quality teams like Croatia, Serbia, and Scotland. Belgium beat both Serbia and Croatia on the road. Belgium outscored opponents 18-4 in qualifying.
Marc Wilmots is now the manager for Belgium. He played in three World Cups for Belgium from 1994-2002 and is the national team’s all time leading World Cup scorer with 5 goals. He has a brilliant array of young talent that can rival any side for sheer star power. The only problem is none of them have any World Cup experience. Belgium has one of the best goalkeepers in the World in 22 year Thibaut Courtois. Midfielder Eden Hazard has a dazzling array of skills but he can be unpredictable due to some baffling mental errors. 20 year old forward Romelu Lukaku is already one of the World’s top strikers. Both Hazard and Lukalu ply their trade for Chelsea professionally. Nacer Chadli , Kevin de Bruyne, and Toby Alderweireld are also rising stars. Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen, Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini and Steven Defour add veteran leadership to the youngsters.
Belgium should win this group with relative ease. Belgium opens with Algeria, before facing Russia and then South Korea. They would face a tough match-up in the round of 16 from the runner-up of the Group of Death Group G which contains, Germany, Portugal, the United States and Ghana. If they survive that, then they could face Argentina, France or Switzerland in the quarters. This team has the talent to make a deep run, but inexperience could be a factor.
Russia (+200 Group, +12000 World Cup)
Like Belgium, Russia returns to the World Cup for the first time since 2002. Russia will host the 2018 World Cup. This is the ninth appearance in the World Cup for Russia but 7 of those came when they were the Soviet Union. As Russia they have only reached the World Cup twice, in 1994 and 2002. The USSR made the quarterfinals 3 times and came in fourth in 1966. Russia was upset by Slovenia in a playoff to get to the 2010 World Cup.
Russia is #19 in the FIFA Rankings. Russia surprised group favorite Portugal in their UEFA qualifying group. Russia had a 7-2-1 record for 22 points edging Portugal by a point. That sent Portugal into a two leg playoff against Sweden. Russia outscored opponents 20-5 in qualifying.
Russia is coached by Fabio Capello, whom football fans might remember coached England in the 2010 World Cups. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev conceded only 5 goals in qualifying and played every minute in the net. Veteran forward Alexander Kerzhakov led the team in scoring in qualifying. Midfield Igor Denisov took over as captain for Roman Shirokov who will miss the tournament with a torn ACL. Veteran defender Sergey Ignashevich is 34 but is still a strong presence on the back line.
Russia opens with South Korea, before facing Belgium and then Algeria. Russia is the second choice in this group and I think they take a spot in a the knockout round. Still, a date with Germany, Portugal again or perhaps even the US could await in the round of 16. In the end Russia just hopes to make a good showing before they host the next World Cup in four years.
South Korea (+900 group, +40000 World Cup)
South Korea is making their 8th straight World Cup appearance and 9th overall. South Korea made it farther than any Asian team ever in 2002 as co-hosts with Japan when South Korea finished fourth. In 2010, they made it out of the group stage for the second time ever, but lost 2-1 to Uruguay in the Round of 16.
South Korea has long been the gold standard for Asian football along with Japan. It didn’t work out that way in qualifying though as they barely made it into the final qualifying group needing a win over Kuwait to advance. In the final group, They came in second to Iran who had 16 points, and South Korea had 14. The South Koreans were tied with Uzbekistan for second, but South Korea clinched the automatic spot based on goal differential. South Korea is #57 in the FIFA rankings. South Korea outscored teams 13-7 in qualifying.
Hong Myung-Bo took over as manager from Choi Kang-Hee who was fired after the disappointing qualifying campaign. Hong was a player on the 2002 team that made the semifinals. A trio of talented forwards Park Chu-Young, Lee Keun-Ho, and Son Heung-Min lead the scoring options. Goalkeepers Jung Sung-ryong and Kim Seung-gyu have both struggled recently and it isn’t clear who will man the nets.
South Korea struggles to score and sometimes struggles to stop teams from scoring. It isn’t a good combination for a deep run in the World Cup. It will take a lot for South Korea to escape from this group into the Knockout round. South Korea opens with Russia, before facing Algeria and Belgium.
Algeria (+3000 Group, +100000 World Cup)
Algeria is making their fourth appearance in the World Cup, but they have never made it out of the group stage. They upset West Germany in 1982. In 2010, they returned to the World Cup for the first time since 1986. American soccer fans will remember Algeria as the team against whom Landon Donovon scored a goal late in stoppage time to win 1-0 and send USA into the knockout round.
Algeria went 6-2-0 in qualifying and easily won their African qualifying group. Algeria then lost at Burkina Faso 3-2 in the first leg of a 2 leg playoff. Algeria won at home 1-0 to clinch their spot in Brazil on the away goal tie-breaker. Algeria outscored teams 16-7 in qualifying.
Vahid Halilhodzic is the manager for Algeria. Defender Madjid Bougherra provides veteran leadership and scored the game winner in the second leg against Burkina Faso. Forward Islam Slimani led Algeria in scoring during qualifying. Midfielder Sofiane Feghouli is an exciting young player. Cedric si Mohamed is the goalkeeper.
Algeria opens with Belgium, then plays South Korea and closes with Russia. I think Algeris will not end their streak of being eliminated in the group stage.
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