With two straight wins in Group H, Belgium are through to the knockouts. The Red Devils are now a win away from making it three in a row, and if Group Betting markets were an indication they are an almost certain World Cup pick at -5000 to top the table. Only Algeria have a shot to clinch top spot, but at +1800 odds they are long shots.
Belgium began their campaign with a 2-1 win over Algeria, but breaking down the Algerians proved more difficult than most expected. Indeed, Algeria went up 1-0 courtesy of penalty shot in the first half. Two goals in the last 20 minutes by Fellaini and Mertens, however, lifted Belgium to the victory and salvaged the crucial three points. The second match was almost a carbon copy in that the Russians proved difficult to breakdown as well. The Red Devils were tested sorely, their value as the dark horses in the tournament probed and questioned by the Russians. But, finally, with two minutes to spare, Origi broke the deadlock to lift Belgium to a 1-0 victory.
Belgium’s output thus far belies their coveted position at the top of the table. Perhaps, it’s just that the field of opposition was underestimated, their defences better than they’d been given credit. Perhaps, the weight of expectation was overwhelming. After all, this is the golden age in Belgian football, previously unchartered territory. Whatever the reason, though, it doesn’t hide some concerning issues: all their goals have come late in matches, the last 20 minutes to be exact. Their attack seems to lack incentive, and Everton striker Romelu Lukaku –preceding the Belgian were high expectations – has been disappointing thus far, struggling to find form.
Algeria punching above their weight class
Algeria were dubbed the quintessential underdogs in Group H, matched at +3300 to win the section at the start of the competition. Yet, they are a win away from pulling off what seemed so improbable at the start. Of course, they’d need a Belgium defeat in the section’s other match to climb to the table’s summit, which does seem an unlikely occurrence given South Korea’s disappointing campaign thus far. Then again, this World Cup has been riddled with surprises and upsets that nothing should be dismissed out of hand, even if it’s outwardly improbable.
After a heartbreaking defeat to Belgium in the first round, Algeria stepped it up in the second round when they took on South Korea. The Desert Foxes burst out of the gates, racing to a 3-0 lead in the first half, scoring all three goals in the space of 12 minutes and putting such intense scoreboard pressure on the South Koreans that they never really recovered, despite knocking two past the keeper in the second half. The Algerians took the impressive 4-2 victory to move into second place in the table. You can back Algeria at -133 to advance.
South Korea and Russia living on a prayer
Russia are tipped as the +115 pick to simply advance while South Korea are matched on whopping +3300 odds to advance. Their World Cup campaigns are drawing to extinction, both on one point and outside of contention for the knockouts. For either to advance, each would need to win their last clash. For Russia to advance, they’d need to beat Algeria and South Korea to lose to Belgium. If both Russia and South Korea pull off the victory, second spot would come down to the side with the best goal differential. These are the possible scenarios for 1st and 2nd: Belgium and Algeria at -125; Belgium and Russia at +120; Belgium and South Korea at +3300; and, finally, Algeria and Belgium at +1800.
World Cup Picks: The best picks of the lot: Belgium and Algeria at -120 or Belgium and Russia at +120