Belgium, Russia headline Group H at the World Cup

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

BRUSSELS (AP) - With Belgium, Russia, South Korea and Algeria, don’t expect too much pre-World Cup hype from Group H.

Look closely, though, and you won’t kiss it off as irrelevant.

Here are five things to know about Group H at the World Cup:

___

WHY WATCH?

Group H might lack the appeal of teams like Brazil and Germany and stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but with Belgium players Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard, and Russia coach Fabio Capello, the group shouldn’t be disregarded.

“We are in a complicated group,” said Algeria midfielder Mehdi Mostefa, knowing he has to face both the unbridled individual talent of Belgium and the defensive teamwork of South Korea in the first round.

___

WHAT MAKES RUSSIA TICK?

Russia will organize the next World Cup, has financial clout and has attracted some of the best coaches in the world to rekindle the glory days of its 1960 European Nations Cup success, when the Soviet Union won the inaugural continental competition.

Dutch coaches Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat came and went, both stopping short of the full international recognition Russia craved. Somehow, a nation of 142 million people with a long football tradition finds it incredibly tough to be a contender.

Now it is up to Fabio Capello.

The Italian coach got Russia to Brazil by winning a group which included Portugal, and that has given him enough confidence to keep his eye on the second round.

Beyond the group opponents, Capello was more than pleased to see that all three of his matches would be played in temperate conditions in the south, keeping his players fit for later in the tournament.

“We are also happy about the fact that we are not playing in the northern part of the country,” Capello said. “That’s very important to us.”

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus