Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Monday, June 09, 2014

World Cup Preview - Group H - Belgium

Nickname: “de Rode Duivels (The Red Devils).”

Absurd FIFA ranking: 11th

Coach: Former Belgian pro Marc Wilmots

Game Schedule:
June 17 – Belgium v. Algeria (Belo Horizonte, 12:00 p.m. EST, ESPN)
June 22 – Belgium v. Russia (Rio, 12:00 p.m., ABC)
June 26 – Belgium v. South Korea (Sao Paulo, 4:00 p.m., ESPN2)

Prospects: Belgium's lofty position as an eighth seeded team in this summer's tournament (above England and Uruguay who have actually won the thing!) after 12 years in the World Cup wilderness is a perfect indicator of FIFA craziness. That said, any football hipster will know that the Red Devils come into this tournament as a potent dark horse force. Their starting eleven is a virtual who's who of young European talent, so much so that Liverpool's excellent goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is only second in the pecking order to Athletico Madrid's Thibault Courtois. This strength in depth will be invaluable as Belgium progress in the latter stages but their lack of tournament experience may prevent them from springing some real surprises against the big boys.

Key Player: Manchester City's Vincent Kompany is arguably the world's best central defender. He anchors a back four that's so strong that it doesn't have room for Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen.

Youngster to watch: Kevin de Bruyne never got much of a chance at Chelsea under the grim Jose Mourinho era but, now at Wolfsburg, he's flourished and will provide Belgium with much of their attacking thrust.

Who Will Get the Goals: 21 year-old monster striker Romelu "The Chunk" Lukaku has been scoring goals for fun in the past two years on loan with West Brom and Everton. He's a good shout for Golden Boot.

Who Will Get the Cards: Chelsea's Eden Hazard is a temperamental sod. If he's not scoring goals, he's kicking ballboys.

Prediction: Belgium will romp through a competitive Group H, scoring lots of goals. They'll edge out Portugal in an epic 3-3 draw that ends with Cristiano Ronaldo missing a penalty. On to the quarters, where they'll see off Argentina in thrilling fashion. That sets up a titanic semi final against old foes The Netherlands, where they won't have enough gas in the tank.

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