Belgium's Steady Style of Play Sends Them Past Russia, Into Next Stage

By Josh Sippie
Julian Finney - Getty Images
Julian Finney – Getty Images

The Belgium National Team is a squad that flies under a lot of people’s radars. When you think of European powerhouses, you think of FranceSpain (sort of), England (if you ask someone from England), Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

But Belgium is right up there amongst the best in Europe. And Russia is certainly no slouch. They should have beaten South Korea, but the usually sure-handed Igor Akinfeev essentially dropped the ball in his own net. But regardless, these are still the two favorites to advance in Group H.

This game was played to fit Belgium’s style of play. They aren’t a flashy, dramatic club, but they get the job done. Even in their opener against Algeria, despite surrendering the first goal, it always felt like they were in control and that it was just a matter of time before they pulled off another win.

The same was true against Russia. The game was scoreless through the first 87 minutes, but it just felt like Belgium was in control.

The breakthrough came through in the 88th minute, when Eden Hazard, who had been fairly lackadaisical all game, turned on the jets and broke through the left side of the box, feeding Divock Origi for an easy goal.

Russia had opportunities, particularly a tailor-made header for Alexander Kokorin that he inexplicably sent wide.

Belgium is a tough team to beat and a joy to watch. They’re a fluid team that meshes together like a single moving body. They’re slow, steady buildup is a tough nut to crack.

They’re going to win Group H, which means they’ll match up against whoever finishes second in Group G. No one has any idea who’s going to finish where in Group G, but whoever it may be, they’ll have a hard task in beating Belgium.

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