Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Brazil WC 2014, Belgium vs Algeria - LIVE COMMENTARY:


Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have a LIVE Commentary of the opening group stage match in Group H, between the dark horses to go all the way to the final in the shape of Belgium against lowly Algeria. 

Both teams will be desperate for a good start, seeing as the opening match is always the most important in a big tournament like this. 

It will be interesting to see how Belgium fair, their team is very impressive in terms of squad depth and quality - with many of their first-team players plying their trade in the Premier League.


Team line-ups for the match:

Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Van Buyten, Vertonghen, Witsel, Dembele, Chadli, De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku.

Subs: Mignolet, Vermaelen, Fellaini, Mirallas, Mertens, Defour, Origi, Lombaerts, Januzaj, Vanden Borre, Ciman and Bossut.

Algeria: M'Bolhi, Halliche, Bougherra, Medjani, Ghoulam, Bentaleb, Mostefa, Taider, Mahrez, Soudani and Feghouli.

Subs: Si Mohamed, Belkalem, Mesbah, Yebda, Lacen, Ghilas, Brahimi, Slimani, Cadamuro, Djabou, Mandi and Zemmamouche.

Referee: Marco Rodriguez (from Mexico)

16:50 - Belgium will be hoping that they can get off to the best possible start with an opening win against a weak Algerian side - having said that, the African side are unpredictable and are capable of grinding out a result when they need to (think back to the 0-0 result against England in 2010)


16:52 - The notable players for Algeria today are Valencia winger Stephane Feghouli and Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb.

16:54 - The national anthems now. Belgium first. 

16:56 - Both national anthems were observed well, as the game is almost ready to get underway.

16:57 - Algeria's 4th World Cup, and the highest-ranked African team according to FIFA-rankings. 

16:58 - Belgium's first participation in a major international tournament in 12 years, this will be interesting for sure.

17:00 - The referee blows his whistle, and the game is underway. Belgium playing from left-to-right, and the opposite direction for Algeria.

1: Belgium have a dead-ball situation to deal with, a long-range free-kick from 35 yards out. 

2: The set-piece comes of nothing as Belgium can clear the danger away.

3: Formation analysis - 
Belgium have set up with a 4-2-3-1 today, Lukaku as the lone striker with de Bruyne, Chadli and Hazard behind him. 

Dembele and Witsel as the defensive-midfielders in a solid set-up from the Belgians.

Meanwhile, Algeria have started the game with a 4-1-4-1 formation, looking to get Bentaleb and Feghouli on the ball as much as possible to push men forward and have a potential chance or two as well as defending when possible. 

4: All eyes on Chelsea duo Hazard and Lukaku, both of which will be eager to impress for different reasons.

Hazard wants to prove to the world that he is one of the best players in the world, while Lukaku wants to impress potential European clubs as he is unsettled at Chelsea and is open to a move away in search of first-team football. 

8: Good play by the Algerians, not giving their opponents much space or time on the ball, especially Hazard on the flank. He looks frustrated. 

13: Lukaku has had his first touch of the match, after 13 minutes. Shows how hard Algeria are trying to make it for their opponents, they don't want the ball in their half. 

16: Witsel has been the most involved player on the pitch for Belgium though. Here is his heat map so far already - 
Involved: Witsel has been involved in the game a lot for Belgium in midfield
17: Defensive frailties? Half-chance for Algeria as Bayern defender van Buyten struggles to clear the danger and is exploited by an approaching Mahrez who steals the ball from the Belgian and shapes to shoot on the edge of the area, but the resulting effort is well wide of the post and not troubling Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

18: Belgium need to be quicker on the ball, and their final ball needs to be better if they are going to break the deadlock. Patient, dominating possession as you'd expect but the scoreline does not emphasize their hard-work as of yet.

20: First shot of the game for Belgium is parried away by M'Bolhi after a stinging drive from 25-yards out by Witsel. They need to keep this up.

22: PENALTY! Algeria take advantage on the counter attack and the Africans have a big chance to open the scoring! Silly foul to give away by Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen, who grabs onto the arm of Valencia winger Feghouli and he goes down.

The referee points to the spot and gives Vertonghen a yellow card for his troubles, clear contact there.

24: GOAL! Feghouli steps up to the plate for Algeria, and we are in for a big shock if it stays like this! A coolly taken penalty, the Valencia man slots the ball straight down the middle as Courtois dives to his right. 




26: Belgium are in shock. The game has not gone according to script, it just highlights the fact that you have to take your chances otherwise you may regret it! 1-0 Algeria.

30: Hazard wins the ball in a dangerous area and beats his marker with pace before getting tackled late. Belgium free-kick to come.

31: The resulting free-kick is taken by de Bruyne, but you don't want to see that again. High and wide from the Wolfsburg midfielder.

33: First yellow card of the game goes to Algerian midfielder Nabil Bentaleb after he elbows fellow Tottenham midfielder Moussa Dembele in the face. Clear foul. 

35: Belgium have another chance, again from Witsel and it's long-range. Parried by M'Bolhi. Lacking urgency for the most part of the team.

45: Just the one minute of stoppage time to play in the first-half, but Belgium begin to wake up and realise they are behind. 

Good play between Hazard and Chadli, good movement from the Spurs winger into space as the Chelsea winger gets past the Algerian defence and finds his team-mate with a through ball into the area. Chadli's resulting shot is poor and low, keeper is comfortable to hold onto it.

45+1: The referee blows his whistle for half-time. Algeria take a 1-0 lead into the break, but Belgium have been brighter in the last few minutes and probably do not want the whistle to blow, which is understandable given the fact that they have under-performed based on their sheer talent and quality in the team. 1-0 down in their opening game, certainly was not in the script.

18:00 - The second-half is about to start, as Mertens is replacing Chadli for Belgium.

45: The referee blows his whistle to start the second-half, Belgium need to get back into the game and quickly if they want to win. Algeria will be quick to try and stop the free-flowing rhythm of the Belgians, who will be eager to get forward with the likes of Hazard and Chadli.

46: Lukaku needs to get on the ball more, he's only had one or two touches so far all game which isn't good at all. Very frustrating, it's clear to see from the Chelsea striker's facial expression to his team-mates.

51: Half-chance for Belgium goes begging, the goalkeeper fails to deal with the danger from a corner and Witsel's header goes over the bar. They need to realise the keeper M'Bolhi looks vulnerable. 

54: Belgium in-swinging free-kick from 30 yards out, taken by Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld but goalkeeper M'Bolhi commands his area by coming out and punching the attempted delivery away from his goal. 

55: Algeria corner almost ends up in the second goal of the game, the delivery is headed on but striker Soudani cannot connect with the ball at the far post and Courtois looks on as the effort goes out for a goal-kick.

56: Belgium have not looked particularly convincing at the back today, I must say. If Algeria can get forward, you never know, they could score again.

57: Second substitution of the match comes from Belgium:  

Belgium SUB:
Romelu Lukaku OFF
Divock Origi ON

The 19-year-old young striker takes the place of Lukaku, having shown what he can do from his impressive performances in Ligue 1 with Lille this season.

62: Foul by Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen, free-kick for Algeria near the touchline.

64: Last subsitituion of the match for Belgium: 

Belgium SUB:
Moussa Dembele OFF
Marouane Fellaini ON

Manchester United defensive-midfielder Fellaini comes on in place of Tottenham's Dembele.

65: First sub of the game meanwhile for Algeria:
El Arabi Soudani OFF
Islam Slimani ON

66: The Algerian footballer of the year comes on, he has been reportedly linked with a move to EPL clubs West Ham and Crystal Palace so it will be interesting to see whether or not he can have an impact on the game today. 25 minutes to play plus stoppages.

67: Lukaku will be angry on the Belgium bench now! Replaced by Origi 10 minutes ago, and the Lille striker has already had double the amount of chances that Lukaku has had to work for during the 57 minutes that he was on for!

A half-chance sees the ball fall into his path inside the area, he powers the ball into the ground and it is blocked by the legs of M'Bolhi as Algeria scramble clear.

69: GOAL! Belgium back in it!! Their persistence has paid off, and they have equalised!

Long diagonal ball into the box by de Bruyne falls to the head of Fellaini, who towers above his marker and powerfully heads the ball into the roof of the net off the crossbar. 1-1, and Algeria's solid defending approach has worn off. 



Impact sub: Fellaini celebrates his goal with manager Marc Wilmots
72: Algeria SUB:
Medhi Lacen ON
Riyard Mahrez OFF 

75: Belgium are all of a sudden in the mood for goals, they want this and Algeria are on the back-foot.

79: GOAL! Belgium in-front!! A turnaround from the Belgians, what a finish! Hazard goes on the counter attack with the ball at his feet on the left flank, he gets past his man and attracts a defender towards him.

Then, the Chelsea winger times a direct through ball pass perfectly into space for Napoli attacking midfielder Dries Mertens to run into, Mertens smashes the ball into the top corner of the net and M'Bolhi is helpless to prevent the well-taken strike. 


Power strike: Mertens with a fierce drive into the roof of the net to give Belgium a 2-1 lead
80: A shame for Algeria, their plan was 20 minutes or so from working and once Belgium gained momentum they have taken this game to the Africans. 

82: SAVE! And a good one to from M'Bolhi to deny the close range header from Fellaini. He rubs his hair, he knows he could have sealed the victory there!

84: Algeria SUB:
Carl Medjani OFF
Nabil Ghilas ON

89: So it looks like a Belgium win, arguably deserved after an improved performance second-half - but you have to give Algeria credit for a solid performance at the back. Unlucky.

90: Confirmation from the fourth official on his electronic board that there will be 3 minutes of stoppage time. A possible late equaliser for Algeria to dampen the relieved Belgians? 

90+1: Belgium happy to take their time, they win a corner after a spell near the corner flag.

90+2: A chorus of boos from the supporters in the ground who are not exactly happy that the game is not being played fairly, you would not expect a team like Belgium to be time-wasting but there you go.

90+2: One last chance for Algeria, a long throw-in to be taken as the Algerians pile players forward.

90+3: Belgium go on the counter attack as the danger is averted, and Hazard keeps the ball at his feet to avoid the challenges of oncoming Algerian defenders.

90+3: FULL-TIME = Belgium 2 Algeria 1. A hard-earned three points, but 3 points regardless for the Belgians after an improved second-half performance. 

My MOTM: Eden Hazard 

Did not get on the ball a lot in the first-half, but he was superb both on and off it in the second period. Assisted Mertens for the winner, and could have had two or three more if Chadli had taken his chances. 

Here is his heat map from the game: 


Influence: The second-half was dominated by Hazard, he got Belgium back into the game
His pace and dribbling was too much in the end for a solid Algerian defence who did well to block him out for the first-half, but after the break the Chelsea winger came out like a man possessed and troubled the opponents on the counter attack, delivering good crosses into the box and making good runs into space.


Match Report of the second group stage match in Group A between the holders Brazil and South American side Mexico on my blog tomorrow -


19:20 - Here are the team line-ups for the match, set to kick off in 40 minutes: 

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Paulinho, Fred, Neymar, Oscar, Ramires and Luiz Gustavo.

Subs: Jefferson, Victor, Dante, Maxwell, Henrique, Maicon, Fernandinho, Hernanes, Bernard, Willian and Jo.


Mexico: Ochoa, Rodriguez, Marquez, Herrera, Layun, Dos Santos, Moreno, Guardado, Peralta, Aguilar and Vazquez.