World Cup Fantasy Preview: Group H

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Brace yourself. It’s almost here. We are now just days away from the greatest world sports spectacle. The tournament kicks off this Thursday in which 32 countries have sent forth their finest, handpicked squad members to compete against the world’s best. The players will play every match like it’s the last for four years simply because it just may be. May even be the last chance to play on the world stage that they may ever get.

As the clubs have already arrived in the host county of Brazil, the players have begun familiarizing themselves with the culture and the climate. We here at Fake Premier League are trying to help you familiarize yourselves with the clubs and the players to watch on those specific squads. Today we will take a look at Group H in our final installment of the World Cup Fantasy Preview series.

Group H

Belgium

Algeria

Russia

South Korea

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Belgium

A favorite “Dark Horse” club of many, Belgium possess the talent to make it deep into the tourney. Being dealt into the group that they were, The Red Devils certainly have great chances at making the knockout stages. With the spotlight on clubs such as the host country Brazil, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Italy and England, Belgium just may be flying under the radar a bit. Not dealing with the pressure of the expectations of the previously mentioned powerhouse clubs, Belgium has a chance to play with nothing to lose and could possibly live up to the Dark Horse status and make some noise in this tournament.

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois(Athletico Madrid), Simon Mingolet(Liverpool), Sammy Bossut(Zulte Waregem)

Defense: Toby Alderweireld(Atletico Madrid), Laurent Ciman(Standard Liege), Nicolas Lombaerts(Zenit St Petersburg), Vincent Kompany(Manchester City), Daniel Van Buyten(Bayern Munich), Anthony Vanden Borre(Anderlecht), Thomas Vermaelen(Arsenal), Jan Vertonghen(Tottenham)

Midfield: Nacer Chadli(Tottenham), Mousa Dembele(Tottenham), Steven Defour(Porto), Kevin De Bruyne(Wolfsburg), Marouane Fellaini(Manchester United), Adnan Januzaj(Manchester United), Eden Hazard(Chelsea), Kevin Mirallas(Everton), Divock Origi(Lille), Axel Witsel(Zenit St Petersburg)

Forwards: Romelu Lukaku(Everton), Dries Mertens(Napoli)

Players to Watch: Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is one of the best up and coming ‘keepers in the game right now, picking up awards in La Liga at Athletico Madrid. Defender Vincent Kompany just hoisted the BPL Championship trophy earlier this year with Manchester City and will be looking to play a key role as Captain of this squad. Midfielder Eden Hazard may be the key player in this squad who brings world class excitement to the pitch with every touch on the ball. Forward Romelu Lukaku was a dominant force up front at Everton this season in the Barclay’s Premier League while on loan from Chelsea and will look to keep his goal scoring momentum rolling right into the knock out stages of the 2014 World Cup.

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Algeria

With a decent chance of making it out of the group stages, Algeria are definitely headed in the right direction in terms of development. In 2010 the club showed that they were no pushovers, holding the United States and England to a draw each, but failed to advance as they did not have the ability to score themselves. Heading into 2014, it’s a bit of a different story with added talent and playing among group favorites Belgium and Russia, The Desert Foxes have a chance to sneak through if said clubs take them too lightly.

Goalkeepers: Rais Mbolhi(CSKA Sofia), Cedric Si Mohamed(CS Constantine), Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche(USM Alger)

Defenders: Essaid Belkalem(Watford, on loan from Granada), Madjid Bougherra(Lekhwya Club), Liassine Cadamuro(Mallorca), Faouzi Ghoualm(Napoli), Rafik Halliche(Academica Coimbra), Aissa Mandi(Stade Reims), Carl Medjani(Valenciennes), Djamel Mesbah(Livorno), Mehdi Mostefa(AC Ajaccio)

Midfielders: Nabil Bentaleb(Tottenham), Yasine Brahimi(Granada), Medhi Lacen(Getafe), Saphir Taider(Inter Milan), Hassan Yebda(Udinese)

Forwards: Abdelmoumene Djabou(Club Africain), Sofiane Feghouli(Valencia), Nabil Ghilas(Porto), Riyad Mahrez(Leicester City), Islam Slimani(Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Hilal Soudani(Dinamo Zagreb)

Players to Watch: Sofiane Feghouli will look to fill that goal scoring void that the club lacked last time around, playing from an attacking midfield position. Club Captain Madjid Bougherra is the key of the back line, providing veteran leadership on the pitch while looking to lock down the opposing attack much like in 2010. Midfielder Nabil Bentaleb and defender Faouzi Ghoualm could also provide the talent needed to sneak through and upset many of the “experts” picks of group winners Belgium and Russia.

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Russia

The other group favorite alongside Belgium is Russia, who will be looking to advance for just the first time in their World Cup history. The Russian squad finished ahead of Portugal in the qualifying stages of the tournament and will be looking to prove that they can use their homegrown talent to continue that success and push through. Their back line was a much needed area of improvement and having done just that, the club has their sights set on that elusive knockout stage berth.

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev(CSKA Moscow), Yury Lodygin(Zenit St Petersburg), Sergey Ryzhikov(Rubin Kazan)

Defenders: Vasili Berezutskiy(CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat(Dynamo Moscow), Andrey Eshchenko(Anzhi Makhachkala), Sergey Ignashevich(CSKA Moscow), Alexey Kozlov(Dynamo Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov(Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov(Terek Grozny), Georgi Schennikov(CSKA Moscow)

Midfielders: Denis Glushakov(Spartak Moscow), Igor Denisov(Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev(CSKA Moscow), Yury Zhirkov(Dynamo Moscow), Alexey Ionov(Dynamo Moscow), Pavel Mogilevets(Rubin Kazan), Alexander Samedov(Lokomotiv Moscow), Victor Faizulin(Zenit St Petersburg), Oleg Shatov(Zenit St Petersburg)

Forwards: Maxim Kanunnikov(Amkar Perm), Alexander Kerzhakov(Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin(Dynamo Moscow)

Players to Watch: Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is being labeled the best since “The Black Spider” Lev Yashin and will star in between the pipes at the back end for the defensive minded Russian club. At the front end, Alan Dzagoev will use his impressive ball skills and tested on the pitch presence from his time in the Russian Premier League to not only find the back of the net, but create chances for his squad mates. Alexander Kokorin scored 4 goals in 8 appearances at the qualifying stage and will look to carry that over into the group stage.

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South Korea

Not only have the South Koreans qualified for the 8th consecutive World Cup, but have advanced into the knock out stage in 2 of the last 3. Having been awarded the hosting duties of the 2002 World Cup, the club made an impressive run into the semi-finals before being knocked out. Advancing, this time around will likely mean having to upset one of Belgium or Russia and defeating Algeria which may prove to be tough in its own right. The odds are certainly not stacked in favor of their advancement, but the ability is certainly there.

Goalkeepers: Jung Sung-ryeong(Suwon Bluewings), Kim Seung-gyu(Ulsan Horang-i), Lee Bum-young(Busan I’Park)

Defenders: Yun Suk-young(QPR), Kim Young-kwon(Guangzhou Evergrande), Hwang Seok-ho(Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Hong Jeong-ho(Augsburg), Kwak Tae-hwi(Al Hilal), Lee Yong(Ulsan Horang-i), Kim Chang-soo(Kashiwa Reysol), Park Joo-ho(Mainz)

Midfielders: Ki Seung-yueng(Sunderland, on loan from Swansea), Ha Dae-sung(Beijing Guoan), Han Kook-young(Kashiwa Reysol), Park Jung-woo(Guangzhou R&F), Son Heung-min(Bayer Leverkusen), Kim Bo-kyung(Cardiff City), Lee Chung-yong(Bolton Wanderers), Ji Dong-won(Augsburg)

Forwards: Koo Ja-cheol(Mainz), Lee Keun-ho(Sangju Sangmu), Park Chu-young(Arsenal), Kim Shin-wook(Ulsan Horang-i)

Players to Watch: Son Heung-min is just 21 years of age, but owns an impressive 23 appearances for his country. A proven goal scorer, with any support from his surrounding cast, he could provide the goals needed to pull off the upset and once again advance to knockout. Kim Young-gwon will look to be that presence at the back that will contain the opposing attack, while proving that he has what it takes to be a fixture in his country’s back line for years to come.

 

World Cup posters courtesy of Christiano Siqueria and ESPN

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