FIFA World Cup 2014 Predictions: Match #31 Belgium vs. Russia

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | June 19, 2014 9:36 AM EST

Final Score

Belgium 1 Russia 0

REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku (C) fights for the ball with Algeria's Nabil Bentaleb (L-R), Saphir Taider and Madjid Bougherra during their 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte June 17, 2014.

Overview

The thirty first match of the FIFA World Cup 2014 is going to be held between Belgium and Russia. The Group H match should be interesting as Belgium will try to ensure its spot in the "group of 16" by winning this match. Russia, on the other hand, must not lose this match as it has only 1 point so far. If Belgium loses this match, the table will be wide open.

Teams

Belgium: Belgium started the tournament as the favourite to top Group H. However, it faced a tough challenge in its opening match against a comparatively weaker team Algeria. This match showed once again that it would be unwise to underestimate the "so-called" weaker teams. Belgium conceded a goal in the first half and looked rather clueless about how to come back in the game. Belgium manager Marc Wilmots had to talk with his young players to life their spirits. Belgium eventually went on to win the match 2-1 but it showed enough vulnerability to be scored against.

Russia: It is extremely important for Russia to win this match. If it wins this match it will have 4 points, 1 of which it got from the match against Korea Republic. It will leave the option open for Russia to finish on top of the table. However, if it loses this match, it can only finish with maximum 4 points at best (only if it wins against Algeria). That means that Russia, with 4 points, will possibly finish second. That means Russia will have to face the mighty Germans in the next round, which look strong enough to finish first in Group G. Russia was denied victory by Korea Republic. It did not perform as well as it was expected to. In fact, Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev made a blunder when the ball slipped off his gloves and ended up in the net.

Head to Head

These two teams played 8 times against each other before. Belgium won 3 times, Russia 4 and 1 ended in a draw. There were 22 goals scored. Russia scored 12 of those, Belgium 10.

Key Players

Belgium: Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens

Russia: Alexander Kerzhakov, Aleksandr Kokorin and Igor Akinfeev

Date, Time & Venue

Brazil's time zone is UTC/GMT -3. The match starts at 1 pm (local time) on June 22, which means it is 2 am on June 23 in New South Wales, Australia. The match will be held at Maracanã - Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho in Rio De Janeiro.

Prediction

This will be a highly competitive match which will probably decide the top two positions in Group H. Belgium will turn out to be slightly better than its opponent and win it 2-1.

Group Predictions

Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, Group E, Group F, Group G & Group H

Reference: FIFA

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au

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(Photo: REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler / )
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku (C) fights for the ball with Algeria's Nabil Bentaleb (L-R), Saphir Taider and Madjid Bougherra during their 2014 World Cup Group H soccer match at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte June 17, 2014.
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