Belgium to top World Cup group…but exit in Second Round
A favourable draw may make Belgium favourites to top their World Cup group, but they face a daunting task to progress much further in the competition and could well exit in the second round.
With a squad boasting the talents of Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku among others, the sleeping giants of European football finally made a return to the top table after qualifying for the summer finals with ease.
And they were subsequently rewarded by the draw for the tournament, which saw them placed in a group containing Algeria, South Korea and Russia – three sides some way below Marc Wilmots’ team in the FIFA World rankings.
Belgium can be backed at 8/15 with Ladbrokes to top Group H, something approaching a banker considering South Korea and Algeria’s lowly status as well as the inconsistency of Fabio Capello’s Russia team, who dropped points against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan during qualification.
However, once out of the group phase, the Belgians face a daunting task to progress much further, whether they finish top or even second in the standings.
While the draw may have given them a favourable foursome in the first phase of the tournament, the knockouts will most likely see them pitted against either Germany or Portugal.
As losing semi-finalists from Euro 2012, they represent arguably two of the strongest contenders for the top prize in Brazil with Die Mannschaft boasting an enviable array of exciting young stars while Portugal have in Cristiano Ronaldo a player capable of turning any game.
With odds of 11/8 on Belgium going out in the second round, a quick look at the head-to-head record certainly backs up the assertion, with the Low Country failing to beat Portugal since way back in 1989, losing two and drawing one of the subsequent three meetings between the sides.
Belgium fans will certainly be dreading any meeting with Germany, who are unbeaten in 16 encounters with their European neighbours, winning 15 and drawing one, with the most recent of these victories coming back in 2011.
And while players like Hazard and Lukaku have enjoyed great campaigns so far, any injuries could see Wilmots fall back on out-of-form players like Marouane Fellaini and Christian Benteke – neither of which has yet to hit the heights enjoyed last term in the Premier League.
The dark horses of Belgium may make it over the first hurdle in Brazil, but don’t expect to see them near the finish line.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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