Today we are previewing the final group of World Cup 2014, Group H. This group has one of the biggest sleepers in the Cup, Belgium. Led by EPL stars, this squad is looking to make a name for themselves, and this is a great group to do it in. There is also Russia, Korea Republic, and Algeria. Find out who we think will advance, and become the final two teams to advance in our World Cup 2014 predictions.

Algeria Flag National Flag Algeria

Can’t Miss Talent

Sofiane Feghouli– Feghouli is a 24-year-old who declared Algerian nationality in 2011 after previously playing for France. He plays on some of the biggest stages in club football, playing for Spainish powerhouse Valencia, where he has 12 goals. He plays as an attacking midfielder, and will look to control the middle for his team.

Rising Star

Nabil Bentaleb- The 19-year-old from Tottenham might not even make the final roster, but if he does, he will provide a youthful boost to this already young team. He has only made one appearance for his national side, but there’s no doubt that this kid is the future of Algerian football, so they might as well put his feet to the flames in Brazil this summer at World Cup 2014.

The Key for the Algerians

For the second consecutive World Cup, Algeria is given a fairly favorable draw all things considered. However, they will need to find more offense this time around. In 2010, they didn’t score a single goal on their way to just one point in the group. It goes without saying that won’t get it done in any World Cup, so they need to find some production up front. If they can do that, their defense is solid, and can hold on to an ugly 1-0 victory.

How Far Can They Go

I think Algeria will take a step up from four years ago, but still won’t make it out of the group. Of course it’s important to look at the schedule, and Algeria has the benefit of playing the other subpar team in the group, South Korea. A result here is paramount, and a win will put the pressure on the loser of the Belgium-Russia match, if the match is won, or both teams if they tie it. Four points seems to be the ceiling for this team, which could get it done, but I don’t think it will.

Belgium Flag in 1830 Belgium 

Can’t Miss Talent

Vincent Kompany- For the first time in our previews, a defender gets some love in the Can’t Miss Talent, and that player is the captain, and captain of EPL Champions Manchester City, Vincent Kompany. Kompany is one of the biggest defenders in the world, and while he is prone to some awful mistakes, he is also prone to take the best player of the opponent out of the game. Not only that, but Kompany is a huge threat on corner kicks, and has scored some downright vital goals for Man City in years past. He will be in control of the game in the back.

Rising Star

Eden Hazard– Another Belgian making a name for himself in the EPL, Hazard is one of the best up and coming forwards in the world. The 23-year-old only has five goals in 44 International appearances,   but he has registered 23 with Chelsea in 69 showings. Hazard was a driving  force in Chelsea’s EPL title run that fell just short, and he will be looked at to produce plenty for his national team.  Hazard is a sleeper for the Golden Boot, as is Belgium for a cup run. This will be an exciting team to watch.


The Key for the Belgians

Belgium is in an interesting position. Going into the World Cup 2014 draw, Belgium was a cheeky pick as a sleeper. However, they are now in the role of favorites, as they and Russia figure to be the class of the group.  So how will Belgium handle being favorites then? My guess is they will take to it kindly. This is one of those cases where a team that historically hasn’t been great has a pocket of incredible talent, and it couldn’t come at a better time. If they can handle the pressure of favorites in the group stage, they will relish the underdog role moving forward.

How Far Can They Go

I’m not ready to crown this team Championship contenders just yet, but a birth in even as far as the semi-finals wouldn’t shock me. While they got a favorable group draw, they didn’t luck out so much with their second round draw, as it will likely be against Portugal or Germany. They can’t beat the Germans, but I would pull the trigger on a huge upset over Portugal. From there, it will be tough sledding for this team, but every year it seems there is a surprise semi-finals team, and this squad seems prime to take that role.

FL579_russian_flag Russia

Can’t Miss Talent

Aleksandr Kerzhakov– The 31-year-old striker is the unquestioned go-to guy for a big goal for the Russians, and they will be looking to him early and often in this group to make plays for his team. Kerzhakov has 25 goals in 79 International appearances, and has amassed over 130 goals in his illustrious club career. This will likely be Kerzhakov’s last World Cup, so he will want to go out with a bang.

Rising Star

Aleksandr Kokorin- This young striker will be paired with his Aleksadr counterpart to form the duo that will lead Russia as far as they will go. The 23-year-old has netted five goals in International play, and has some home cooking in his league play, notching 10 goals for Dynamo Moscow last year.

The Key for the Russians

Russia surprised many by qualifying first in their group, one that included the third rank Portuguese national team. They were rewarded for this effort by being given a fairly soft group draw, one where at #18 in the world, they are clearly one of the top two teams in the group. But will they be able to handle that pressure? It’s one thing to sneak up on teams in qualifying when they aren’t expecting much from you. It’s a whole different beast to play as “favorites in the World Cup.”

How Far Can They Go

Wherever Russia ends up qualifying, assuming they get out of the group stage, they will likely have a tough second round matchup. They will either have to face off against powerhouses Germany or Portugal, or face an upstart team in USA or Ghana that will be flying high off an unexpected second round berth. Because of this, I don’t see Russia making it out of the second round. They have the talent to knock off USA or Ghana, but they would get throttled by Germany, and likely lose to Ronaldo and company.

South-Korea Korea Republic

Can’t Miss Talent

Park Chu-Young– Chu-Young is certainly an interesting character. No current Korean player has scored more international goals for the team than Young, but he has hardly appeared in club play since transferring to Arsenal in 2011. Chu-Young will certainly have something to prove on the big stage, and I expected him to either disappear or burst out in this cup.

South Korea's Park celebrates after scoring a penalty kick during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier soccer match against Jordan in Seoul

Rising Star

Son Heung-Min– Unlike Chu-Young, Heung-Min has seen plenty of action on the club level, registering 31 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen and scoring 10 goals last season. Before that, he was a regular at Hamburger SV. The point is, though he is 21 years old, he is one of the most experienced players on the team, and will be a huge part of his teams eventual success.

The Key for the South Koreans

On paper, the Korea Republic is actually the fourth best team in the group, but I favor them to advance over Algeria thanks to the good old experience card. They made it out of the group stage in 2010, and could get themselves on a great start to that in their opener against Algeria. If they get a win there, I like their chances to sneak in over Russia in second.

How Far Can They Go

Just like Algeria, I don’t like this team’s chances past the second round. They certainly have a better chance to pull off a shocking upset, but I just don’t see it in this World Cup.

Final Group Predictions

1. Belgium

2. Russia

3. Korea Republic

4. Algeria

Miss any of our other previews, check them out below!

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group E

Group F

Group G

Our top 16 teams have been decided! Stay tuned next week where we will break down the second round matchups, and predict it all the way down to a winner. Thanks for reading!