Algeria (0-0-0) vs. Belgium (0-0-0), Noon (ET)
06/17/2014 8:10 AM
06/17/2014 8:23 AM
Belo Horizonte, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Belgium makes its return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years on Tuesday at the Estadio Mineirao as the club opens Group H play against underdogs Algeria.
The Desert Foxes took part in the 2010 World Cup and failed to advance past the group stage, and the African side figures to have a tough time reaching the last 16 this time around as well.
Belgium's last appearance on the big stage was the 2002 tournament when the team reached the second round before bowing out to eventual champions Brazil.
And the Red Devils will expect to reach at least the last 16 as the favorites in Group H this year.
Head coach Marc Wilmots was a member of the 2002 World Cup team, and he will be on the sidelines this time around.
Wilmots doesn't have an extensive coaching resume, but he brings with him a talented young side that could make some noise in Brazil.
Belgium has a number of quality attacking options led by 22-year-old Chelsea star Eden Hazard, while Everton winger Kevin Mirallas figures to play opposite Hazard and provide quality service to striker Romelu Lukaku, who was a teammate of Mirallas at Everton this past season while on loan from Chelsea.
That trio should provide plenty of scoring chances for Belgium, but how far this team goes could be determined by how well they hold up in defense.
Captain Vincent Kompany will serve as the anchor, and he will be joined by players like Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Vermaelen and Toby Alderweireld in front of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is coming off a great season with Atletico Madrid.
All the ingredients are there for Belgium to make an impact in this tournament, and there is no reason for Wilmots to expect anything less than three points from this opening game.
Algeria finished last in Group C in 2010, claiming one point and failing to score a goal in three games.
The team will hope for a better showing this year with Sofiane Feghouli at the heart of things in midfield.
The Valencia man must provide service for Sporting Lisbon striker Islam Slimani, who is Algeria's biggest goal threat, while 19-year-old Nabil Bentaleb is another player to watch in midfield after making a strong debut this past season with Tottenham in the English Premier League.
Algeria is captained by veteran defender Madjid Bougherra, and he will have his hands full with the plethora of attacking options in the Belgium side.
If Algeria is able to take anything from this match, it will be a big surprise and will change the landscape in Group H.
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