Day 6 of the World Cup is when we complete the first round of group stage matches and head back to the beginning as Brazil play their second match, this time against Mexico. We also get to see Group H in action with Belgium taking on Algeria and Russia facing South Korea.
The biggest match of the day and probably the best we’ll have in Group A will be when Brazil take on Mexico in Fortaleza. The two winners of the first matches have met in this same stadium a year ago as Brazil went on to comfortably win 2-0 en route to claiming the Confederations Cup trophy. Mexico are a better team 12 months later than they were last time, yet it is still difficult to see them walking away with a surprise.
Both teams love having the ball at their feet, although they’re built and sometimes tactically stand as if they prefer playing more on counter attacks. Brazil might be missing Hulk who picked up an injury during training, which should mean we’ll see Bernard in the lineup. He had good minutes against Croatia, but it’ll be better if he plays on the right side while Neymar moves left and Oscar to the center.
For Mexico, their 3-5-2 system also works well for teams trying to soak up pressure which is probably what will happen for them. They won’t be able to beat Brazil in the air, even if Chicharito plays. However, if we’ll see the same kind of movement from Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta as we saw from them in the first match, it might not be such an easy afternoon of football for the host nation.
One of the more intriguing sides everyone are expecting to see happens to be Belgium. They open the day against Algeria, not to mention coming in with plenty of expectations. A front four that will probably include Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and either Kevin Mirallas or Dries Mertens. Sometimes it’s incredible to think of the transformation Belgian football has gone through over the last decade, hoping it’s not just a golden generation but the start of something new thanks to the excellent work they’ve done with the younger groups.
Algeria are a slightly different team than the terrible one we saw in the 2010 World Cup. Yes, they’re defense and talent isn’t in abundance, but there has been work to add a bit more youth and attacking ability to the side. El Arbi Hillel Soudani and Islam Slimani will be the two players who’ll try and score a goal, something they found very difficult four years ago, but the most important player should be Sofiane Feghouli of Valencia, as we’ll see another team try to attack with three players most of the time while the others are busy defending.
On to Russia playing South Korea in the late match of the day. A quick look at the lineup suggests that South Korea are a weaker team this time compared to four years ago. No Park Ji-Sung, a very young squad that draws most of its key players from the German Bundesliga, and possibly a problem Japan will be having: Scoring goals, only with even less creative talent up front.
For the Russians all eyes are on Alan Dzagoev, the big star of CSKA Moscow at 24. He will be playing behind either Aleksandr Kerzhakov or Aleksandr Kokorin, while Yuri Zhirkov and Oleg Shatov play on his sides, with Russia hoping to start this tournament the same way they did in Euro 2012 – a devastating 4-1 win over the Czech Republic, although what came next isn’t so fun to remember.