Belgium vs. Russia - World Cup Match Preview - 12 PM EST Sunday June 22, 2014 Maracana - Estadio Jornalista Mario Fiho Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
By Jason Green, World Cup Handicapper, Predictem.com
Match Odds: Belgium 2.00 / Russia 4.20 / Draw 3.50
Moneyline: Belgium +100 / Russia +320 / Draw +250
Over/Under: 2.5 goals. Find the best betting odds for this match at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Belgium was favored to win their group before the World Cup began and with only 1 match played they are all alone atop the group. They have 3 points with their opening win over Algeria with South Korea and Russia each with 1 points after their 1-1 draw.
Belgium is the betting favorite in the match facing Russia and they can book their ticket to the round of 16 with a win.
Winning the group is key for each squad, as the 2nd place team will likely play Germany in the round of 16 match.
Russia was a little lucky to leave their match with South Korea in a draw, as Alexander Kerzhakov scored in the 74th minute after a HUGE mistake by GK Igor Akinfeev gave the Asian nation a gift goal in the 68th minute.
It looked as if there may be a shock when Algeria took the 1-0 lead off a penalty in the 25th minute, but Belgium battled back and scored in the 70th and 80th minute to secure the 2-1 win.
Belgium had the time of possession advantage for the first half in the match against Algeria, but they could not crack the Algeria defense. They did not look good in the first half and they will be playing a solid Russian squad in this match.
One of the strengths of the Belgium squad is their strong midfield led by Kevin De Bruyn, who was key in both goals in the first match facing Algeria. Belgium totally dominated the time of possession in the match (65% to 35%0 and Russia cannot let that happen.
Russia is a very physical squad and in the South Korea match they had 15 fouls and 20 tackles. Belgium has to have good passing in the match, as Russia is not afraid of the hard take down.
Romelu Lukaku is the big gun up front for Belgium and he has to press the issue on offense. He did not have a great match against Algeria, but the Everton striker will be counted on to spearhead the attack in this match.
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Striker Alexander Kerzhakov and FW/MF Aleksandr Kokorin have to give the Russians some offense in this match, but the best chance for them to score may have to come on the counter-attack. Russia is led by their stout defense and they may pack the back line in order to keep Belgium from scoring. Still, they need to pounce on scoring chances they get, as they may not get many.
Igor Akinfeev is a good keeper, but he not only made a big mistake that game South Korea a goal, but made another one earlier in the match as well. He must play better in the net in this match, as Belgium will be the squad that has more scoring chances.
Vincent Kompany is the anchor of the Belgium defense and he has to help the attack in this match.
These squads have met 8 times before with Russia with 4 wins, Belgium with 3, and 1 draw.
Russia Recent Form
3/5/2014 Russia 2 Armenia 0 (Friendly)
5/26/2014 Russia 1 Slovakia 0 (Friendly)
5/31/2014 Norway 1 Russia 1 (Friendly)
6/6/2014 Russia 2 Morocco 0 (Friendly)
6/17/2014 Russia 1 Korea Republic 1 (World Cup)
Belgium Recent Form
3/5/2014 Belgium 2 Cte d’Ivoire 2 (Friendly)
5/26/2014 Belgium 5 Luxembourg 1 (Friendly)
6/1/2014 Sweden 0 Belgium 2 (Friendly)
6/7/2014 Belgium 1 Tunisia 0 (Friendly)
6/17/2014 Belgium 2 Algeria 1 (World Cup)
Jason’s Prediction to Win: I predict another low scoring match in this group encounter. However, Belgium has the better midfield and they will come up with more scoring chances. Russia has a solid defense, but they will not keep a clean sheet in this one, as Belgium will win 1-0 and advance to the knockout stage.