Globe and Mail columnist John Doyle will be covering the World Cup in Brazil. Here is his look at who to watch and what to expect in Group H.
Everyone’s pick for the surprise, dark horse team to end up in the lest eight, Belgium has a lot to prove here. The expectations are enormous - after 20 years on the sidelines, Belgium begets a group of gifted youngsters. EPL stars Marouane Fellaini, Mousa Dembele, Kevin Mirallas, Eden Hazard and front man Romelu Lukaku, to name just a few. A delight to watch, if not overconfident then Belgium will make life hell for any opposing team.
Scrappy focused and underestimated, Algeria has the kind of team that can upset predictions for this group. There are three excellent players - Islam Slimani, Sofiane Feghouli and Yacine Brahimi. Slimani is tall, tough centre forward for Sporting Lisbon an on the cusp of greatness.
Beating Portugal to top spot in their qualifying group, and winning all five home games Russia is a perplexing team. They lost to the Portuguese and Northern Ireland on the road and drew with Azerbaijan. Manger Fabio Capello is canny, though, and will aim to just get out of this group. Then it becomes all about Russia hosting the next World Cup.
A nerve-wracking qualifying campaign brought many changes to South Korea. The core is now four Bundesliga players and five who play in the EPL. A potential star is Son Heung Min a midfielder for Bayer Leverkusen. But, South Korea has never played as well as it did when co-hosting in 2002 and is unlikely to shift that pattern here in Brazil.
Player to Watch: Eden Hazard of Belgium. One of Europe’s top youngsters, the Chelsea man is capable of scoring and acting as playmaker. A his best he can terrify any defender.
Game to watch: Belgium vs. Algeria, June 17. Only when this remarkable Belgium team takes to the field and plays can all the expectations be put into perspective.
Predicted Order of Finish: Belgium, Russia, Algeria, South Korea