When Belgium kick-off their World Cup campaign against Algeria on June 17, it will be vitally important for them to win, to start on a positive note and to lead from the front in Group H. Their most important game of the group stage, though, will come five days later in their second game when they face off against Russia.
Belgium and Russia will both have designs on topping the group and the remaining two teams in the group, Algeria and South Korea, will both have eyes on trying to snatch second place. In the battle for the top spot, and with the opportunity to potentially avoid Germany in the second round, the game between Belgium and Russia looks as though it will serve as a decider for first place between the two nations.
Belgium have a lot of talent in their ranks, both established like Vincent Kompany and Axel Witsel and young and emerging talent like Adnan Januzaj and Thibaut Courtois — they will have high hopes beyond just topping their group. Russia have their own plans and are lead by an experienced winner in Fabio Capello, as well as additional experience in the team with players like Alexander Kerzhakov, Igor Akinfeev and Yuri Zhirkov.
Both Belgium and Russia will have eyes on the game against each other, and although they cannot take their eye off of the other games in the group, they both will know that the game against the other is the key one. If Belgium want to top the group, and avoid Germany in the second round, then they must beat Russia in what will be their most important game of the group phase.