For seventy minutes of their opening match with Algeria, Belgium looked set to make fools of the many people tipping them as dark horses to win the World Cup.
However, Marc Wilmots’ inspired substitutions enabled the Red Devils to come from behind and triumph 2-1, keeping their hopes of winning Group G in rude health.
Belgium are 18/1 to win the competition and topping their group could prove vital to their chances, as it will likely ensure they avoid Germany in the last 16.
Having changed the game via his subs, Wilmots will surely tweak his starting line-up to try and avoid another sluggish start, and three Tottenham Hotspur players could miss out against Russia.
Fans of the Premier League might have been surprised to see Chadli starting for Belgium given his poor first season at Spurs, but the towering forward has generally impressed on international duty.
However, the 24-year-old was hauled off at half-time after an ineffective 45 minutes where he failed to create a single chance, and Dries Mertens will surely keep his place after scoring Belgium’s late winner.
While Chadli might hope to improve under new management at Spurs in his second season, there is no excuse for Vertonghen’s fall from grace over the past 12 months.
After a superb debut campaign in north London that saw him named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2012/13 the defender sulked his way through a terrible season where he was more often found committing basic mistakes than whipping out his trademark ‘Super Jan’ celebration.
Vertonghen made three errors leading to goals in the Premier League, an unhappy knack for calamity that he has taken to the World Cup judging by the blundering challenge that led to Algeria’s penalty.
Although Thomas Vermaelen has had a frustrating season at Arsenal, where Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker’s steadfast partnership has kept him on the bench, he looks a better bet for Belgium’s left-back slot than Vertonghen.
The 28-year-old attacking qualities are well known and he registered one assist in the two games he started on the left-flank of Arsenal’s defence in the Premier League.
Spurs’ other Red Devils player, Mousa Dembele, is also set to lose his starting place after Marouane Fellaini’s star turn off the bench in Brazil.
The Man Utd midfielder was a man possessed, scoring Belgium’s equaliser and looking a constant threat in the air as Wilmots’ side poured forward in the last twenty minutes.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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