What to look forward to in today’s matches at the World Cup

Posted at 6:34 AM, Jun 17, 2014

The last of the teams to play their opening match take the pitch and Brazil and Mexico meet in a battle of the Group A leaders.

The last time we saw Algeria, they were stunned by Landon Donovan at South Africa in 2010. They take on Group H favorites Belgium in the first match of the day.

After Brazil and Mexico scrap, Russia meets South Korea in the other Group H match.

Here’s what to look forward to during Tuesday’s matches at the World Cup:

Hulk hurts

Against Croatia, Brazilian midfielder Hulk was replaced in the second half by Bernard. During practice Sunday, Hulk was stung by a leg injury and sat out most of the workout. So will Hulk have to take the bench? And will Mexico’s Javier Hernandez again play a reserve role? It appears that way. And remember, if either team wins, it will have six points and that likely puts them in the knockout round.

New verse, same as the first

Mexico and Brazil meet in Fortaleza, just like last year in the Confederations Cup. That match was also the teams’ second group match and it was also played in mid-June. Brazil comfortably won that contest 2-0 and Neymar was man of the match. Brazil will have to play with more passion to have a similar result against a confident Mexican team.

Belgian youth

Belgium is one of those opponents that make you say, “No problem,” then they go out and beat you 2-0. They are tough on defense and they have some of the best young players in Europe. Some clubs in Belgium are taking in some serious coin because many of their young stars move to England to play. In 2012, a Belgian newspaper totaled the transfer fees and estimated Belgium’s top 11 players were third in the world in such payments.

Heading the wrong way

South Korea has lost five of its last seven international matches, including a 2-1 loss to Tuesday’s opponent, Russia, in November. On the other hand, Russia hasn’t lost since August. But Russia is missing injured captain Roman Shirokov and the weather will be much warmer than what their players — all of whom play domestically — are used to for game conditions.

Reason to love: Algeria

Probably the only team whose national anthem was written in blood, at least that’s how the story goes. The words were written in 1956 by Moufdi Zakaria, who was imprisoned in Algiers. Legend has it that he had no pencils or paper so he wrote on the walls of his cell with his blood.