Teams: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic
Liverpool Players: Simon Mignolet
On the opposite end of the excitement spectrum from Group G, Group H is a bit of a clunker. I mean it's still World Cup football and it could very well have a dramatic last day finish, but besides Belgium this looks like a lackluster cast. Sometimes though it's the lesser known cast that makes the best movie, although you could argue that if this group becomes the height of World Cup entertainment something has gone horribly wrong.
Talented but unproven, will Belgium survive until the late stages of the tournament?
I think that Belgium will have a good run this year. They're an extremely well balanced side without any apparent weakness, and I doubt a lack of World Cup experience will faze them considering they have Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, two respected leaders. Romelu Lukaku's health is a concern, but the latest reports suggest that he'll be fit to start Belgium's opener against Algeria. (Dan)
I see Belgium making maybe a Quarter. They have good individual players, but I'm not sure they can get it together as a team. They've had problems with that in the past. (JAceKopite16)
I'm with JAce. Belgium reaching the quarterfinals sounds about right. Any more than that would be them overachieving in my opinion. I think they could be really really good in four years though. (blunatic)
Is Russia safe as the second team out of Group H or can either Algeria or Korea sneak through?
This year's Russian team consists only of players from their own domestic league, which makes them a bit of a mystery. On the surface they're much less recognizable and probably less talented than they've been in the past, but while they appear to be ordinary in terms of ability, they're a better side than both Algeria and Korea so they should get through. (Dan)
I'm not sure. One would think that Russia'd be good enough to qualify, yes. But having players only in your domestic league has been a downfall of a bunch of countries. It's up in the air. (JAceKopite16)
I would expect them to get second in the group fairly easily. I remember Russia looking very good in the Euros two years ago and being unfortunate to not advance. I don't see them letting that happen in two consecutive tournaments. (blunatic)
Which player's performance will have the biggest influence on the outcome of this group?
From what we saw of him at Sunderland, Ki can be a pretty impactful player in the midfield. Korea will need him to be a game changer for them to find success in this World Cup. (Dan)
I'm going with Kompany. When he plays well, his defense is always rock solid. I think he could be the one that makes the eventual difference between Belgium going through and going out. (JAceKopite16)
I'm interested to see how Alan Dzagoev does for Russia. He was excellent in their 3 group games at Euro 2012, and if he can replicate that performance in Brazil, Russia should definitely make the knockout stage. (blunatic)
Which Group H matchup are you most excited for?
Russia v. Korea because of the potential advancement implications and because those are two teams you don't usually see paired together. Same thing applies to Russia v. Algeria. (Dan)
Belgium vs Russia. This is probably the only group you can't see an outright winner (on paper at least) in. So that may decide a first and second spot. (JAceKopite16)
I'll also go with Belgium vs. Russia. Russia is the only team in this group I can really see competing with Belgium, so I think this will probably be the best game of the bunch. (blunatic)
Reveal your bias! Which team(s) in this group are you pulling for or rooting against?
It would be cool if Algeria could beat out Russia for the second group spot, although that seems unlikely. (Dan)
Belgium. A lot of people see them as a dark horse, and I like dark horses. (JAceKopite16)
I don't really care a whole lot about any of these teams. I guess I'll pull for Russia purely because that's the team a friend and I always pick when playing 2v2 on FIFA. (blunatic)