BELGIUM V RUSSIA
World Cup 2014
World Cup 2014

World Cup 2014

Marc Wilmots' golden boys set their sights on last 16

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 12:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 12:16am

Having come from behind to beat Algeria in their opening game, Belgium can reach the knockout phase by overcoming Russia at Rio de Janeiro's fabled Maracana.

Marc Wilmots' "golden generation" looked destined to make a meek entrance into the tournament after falling behind to a Sofiane Feghouli penalty in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, but late goals from substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens got them off to a winning start.

With Russia having been held 1-1 by South Korea in their group H opener, the last 16 is already within sight for Belgium.

Vincent felt something in the last few minutes against Algeria and couldn't sprint at 100 per cent
Marc Wilmots

Belgium centre back Nicolas Lombaerts, who plays for Russian side Zenit Saint-Petersburg, knows better than most what to expect from Fabio Capello's side, and he expects his teammates to have a physical edge.

"Capello places lots of importance on organisation," said the 29-year-old.

Lombaerts is on standby to play in case Belgium captain Vincent Kompany is unable to shake off a minor groin complaint.

The Manchester City defender missed training on Thursday and Friday, but Wilmots is confident that he will be able to take part in the eve-of-match session at the Maracana.

"Vincent felt something in the last few minutes against Algeria and couldn't sprint at 100 per cent," Wilmots said.

"We decided that he'd spend two days working separately with [physiotherapist[ Lieven Maesschalck and the [medical] staff. He should be back on the pitch on Saturday."

Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard, creator of Mertens' winning goal against Algeria, is also expected to be fit despite sustaining a bruised toe during that game.

Should Russia lose, Capello's side would find themselves on the brink of elimination ahead of their final game against Algeria.

Russia needed a 74th-minute goal from Aleksandr Kerzhakov to rescue a point against South Korea after goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev's blunder had allowed Lee Keun-ho to break the deadlock.

It was a low-key opening for a team who pipped Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal to an automatic berth in European qualifying, but Spartak Moscow midfielder Denis Glushakov has urged his side to put it behind them.

"We should forget the first game because it's in the past and we have to focus on the game against Belgium," he said.

 

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