Group H is where everyone wanted to be placed due to their Games being last on the Schedule, all stadiums being close in proximity and no location being too crazy weather wise. Belgium seems to be the luckiest of the bunch as the favorites.
This isn’t a group to take lightly though, especially for a team like Belgium, as Russia and South Korea are tough tasks, and Algeria is not a pushover. But if all teams play to their skill level, the Belgians should have no problem advancing, or even winning the group.
Here are the current odds to win Group H from 5 dimes sportsbook
South Korea +830
After a few down years on the international level, Belgium is back in the World Cup for the first time since 2002. Back then, Belgium went to six straight World Cups and advanced past group stages in all but one of them. Belgium has slipped up in recent friendlies, but they completely dominated UEFA qualification, scoring 18 goals and only allowing Four in 10 matches in a respectable group that had Croatia, Serbia, SCotland and Wales.
Many even consider them the dark horse in the Tournament as they’ve been away from the international spotlight for so long. Their team is extremely young and will have to count on 20-year-old Romelu LUkaku up front as Christian Benteke is out due to injury. Their most important player is probably Eden Hazard, who is a creator from an attacking midfield role. Kevin Mirallas (pending groin injury) and newcomer Adnan Januzaj also help on the wings, while Marouane Fellaini and Mousa Dembele gel together the mid. The Belgium defense is filtered with experience in Vincent Kompany, Daniel Van Buyten, Jan Vertonghen and oft-injured Thomas Vermaelen. Then you have Thibaut COurtois in net, who has had an incredible season for Atletico Madrid.
Russia is the next favorite and they also won their UEFA qualification group, although just barely ahead of Portugal and in a less respectable group than what Belgium had to play in. This is also Russia’s first WC appearance since 2002, but they’ve never really had any success in this Tournament.
Manager Fabio Capello has previous Cup experience, so at least that’s on Russia’s side. Their hopes will fall to Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Pavel Pogrebnyak up front with Andrei Arshavin never really being a consideration for the squad, despite his previous success on an international level. The midfield has plenty of experience with Yuri Zhirkov and Roman Shirokov, but it’s not exactly the most skilled. The Russians are best on the defensive end with Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski leading the way, two players from CSKA Moscow, along with goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
It’s been so long since South Korea’s storied World Cup run back when they finished Fourth place in 2002. They haven’t really come close to those levels outside of that year, and it’s hard to see them doing so this year, although making it out of group stages is still possible, despite what the odds say.
They have plenty of big-club talent with Park Chu-Young, Ki Sung-Yueng, Lee Chung-Yong, Kim Bo-Kyung and Son Heung-Min. Obviously, with the level of experience in the squad, this is not a team that you can expect a free win from. Don’t forget they advanced past Greece and Nigeria in the 2010 World Cup.
Algeria doesn’t have a lot of previous World Cup success, but they are known for being a spoiler, most notably in 2010 when they held England to a draw. They probably won’t play as defensive this time around (zero goals scored, two allowed in 2010), but they do have plenty of talent across the board. They have a few scorers that can make a difference in Rafik DjebbOur, El Arbi Hillel Soudani and Islam Slimani. The defense is maintained by Madjid Bougherra, but he will need help from someone. The midfield is also a bit shallow with mostly older players in Medhi LAcen and Adlene GuediOura.
Algeria’s only chance here is probably to play spoiler again. That could happen in the first Game when they get Belgium, but that’s unlikely. Russia and South Korea play in the other opening match and that could easily end up deciding second place in the group. Russia seems to be lacking in too many areas and they usually struggle away from home. There’s no reason why Belgium shouldn’t win the group, but the underdog bet to take is South Korea to advance to the next round. There’s no reason they can’t surprise Russia.