Tuesday's WCup Action
June 16, 2014
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Group H: Belgium vs. Algeria (ESPN, 12:00 p.m. EST)
Belgium -263, Algeria +550, Tie +350
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over +110, Under -140)
The final group opens play on Tuesday when Belgium and Algeria square off Tuesday in their Group H opener.
After years of steadily intensifying hype, the moment is approaching for Belgium to be hurled in at the deep end of a World Cup and either float or drown. The fifth favorites for the trophy haven’t competed in the tournament for 12 years, but starting against Group H’s outsiders Algeria should assist their efforts to immediately acclimatize in Brazil.The Desert Foxes have won none of their past six World Cup encounters and failed to score a single goal in the 2010 edition despite finding themselves paired with USA, England and Slovenia – hardly the most daunting set of opponents.
Belgium’s roster is crammed with attacking talent like Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, yet they weren’t too prolific in qualifying, striking 18 times in 10 games. Just once in the whole process did they net more than two goals in a single match.Algeria’s difficulties in front of goal at the highest level combined with Belgium’s tendency to keep the score down suggest that the contest is likely to provide two goals or fewer.
At the last World Cup, 14 of the 16 opening group stage fixtures served up Under 2.5 goals, with Germany 4-0 over Australia and Brazil 2-1 versus North Korea the only exceptions. One other factor to be aware of is that Belgium always strives to operate on the front foot, scoring the first goal in nine of their 10 qualifiers and leading at halftime in six of the eight games that they won. The best wager to make for this game is the UNDER.
Group A: Brazil vs. Mexico (ESPN, 3:00 p.m. EST)
Brazil -384, Mexico +800, Tie +500
Over/Under: 3 Goals (Over -105, Under -115)
The fans of Brazil will cheer on their team Tuesday when their men go up against Mexico in the second game each of these teams will play in Group A. While Brazil is heavily favored, it will not be easy to defeat a Mexico team that has made it to the knockout rounds in five straight World Cups.
Brazil’s opening game in the 2014 World Cup got off to a rather nerve-wracking start for the team playing in front of its home crowd. Brazil had a rather effortless warm-up before the game and they came out very slow against Croatia. The away team was on the attack early and was able to score on an own goal early on to take a 1-0 lead.
But after Brazil fell behind early, the club eventually took complete control of the game thanks to the brilliant play of Neymar and some questionable calls by the referees. Neymar evened up the score just 29 minutes into the game after a strike that went in after hitting the post. He was all over the field in the game and certainly lived up to the pre-tournament hype. After the goal, Brazil was smooth sailing and would win 3-1 after yet another goal by Neymar off a controversial penalty call, and the final goal by Oscar in extra time.
Mexico was also able to open up Group A play with a victory over Cameroon. While Mexico was favored, the team barely escaped with a 1-0 victory. But getting the three points was all that mattered, and Mexico can now make a major splash by defeating or even tying Brazil in front of its home crowd.
This was yet another game that featured some controversial calls by the officials. Mexico put the ball in the back of the net twice, but was disallowed for offsides on both. Finally, Oribe Peralta was able to get himself to a loose ball off a rebound to put the game-winner home 61 minutes into the match. Mexico dominated play as it had the ball for 58% of the game. Playing against Brazil, however, will be a much bigger challenge.
Group H: Russia vs. South Korea (ESPN, 6:00 p.m. EST)
Russia +105, South Korea +230, Tie +225
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over +160, Under -200)
The last of the 16 opening matches of the 2014 World Cup takes place Tuesday in Group H with Russia taking on underdog South Korea.
With both countries perceived to be fighting for the right to follow Belgium through as Group H runners-up, facing one another first is undesirable, as it creates the threat that one error could ruin their entire World Cup before it has truly got going. Usually in such circumstances, both teams play safe, and a dull draw follows that ensures neither last-16 hopeful enters the final two games at a disadvantage, but South Korea may lack the defensive tools to engineer such an outcome. The 2002 semi-finalists managed just two clean sheets from eight attempts in the final phase of Asian qualifying, and though they progressed from their group at the last World Cup, they conceded six goals in the process, including four against Argentina.
Russia – who beat South Korea in a friendly last year – were hugely impressive in qualifying, topping a tricky group that featured Portugal and Israel, the key to that success being a run of four wins to nil at the beginning of the campaign. That ability to start strongly was also apparent at recent international tournaments. In Euro 2012, they opened with a 4-1 victory over eventual group winners Czech Republic, while they got underway with a 2-0 triumph over Tunisia at their last World Cup in 2002.
However, if Russia once again claims an early three points, it doesn’t necessarily spell doom for South Korea, as the Europeans made a first-round exit on each of the aforementioned occasions despite assuming such a promising position. The pick here is to play the +225 money on a TIE and also pay the steep price for the UNDER to occur.
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