Belgium has set the pace in Group H with its 2-1 win over Algeria. Now Russia and South Korea have a chance to keep up.
Completing Tuesday’s action in Brazil, the only two teams who’ve yet to kick off finally take the field in Cuiabá. A winner joins the Red Devils at the top of their group, while Algeria awaits the loser at the bottom.
Here’s what you need to know:
Russia: Akinfeev, Ignashevich, Glushakov, Kokorin, Berezutskiy, Shatov, Zhirkov, Samedov, Fayzulin, Eshchenko, Kombarov.
South Korea: Jung; Yun, Kim, Son, Park, Y. Lee, Koo, Han, Ki, C. Lee, Hong
1. Will Capello’s iron pay off? Russia is not as talented a they were at the 2008 or 2012 European Championships. That group of Zenit stars has slowly phased out. What Russia is, however, is more solid than they were before. That’s Fabio Capello for you, and although it may keep the Russians from playing the type of stylish soccer that captured so many hearts during Andrei Arshavin’s heyday, it should prevent them from being upset by the South Koreas and Algerias of the world.
2. Can youth pay off for Korea? That’s not to say the Koreans can’t snare a point, just as Algeria and the United States did against Capello’s England four years ago, but it will take improvement from what we’ve seen in the run up to the World Cup. With 14 players on his squad 25 or younger, Hong Myung-bo may see that progress. More likely: Today will be another step toward building a stronger side for 2018.
Expectation: Russia’s generally seen as the favorites. Part of that is Capello. Part of that is the European affiliation. Part of that is the legacy or the Arshavin teams. Regardless, few are picking South Korea.
One blogger’s prediction: Though the methods are dubious, the crowd’s outcome make sense. Russia, 2-0.