Belgian blushes were spared
When pre-World Cup talk started, Belgium was considered one of dark-horse favorites. The team is said to be in a “golden generation” and had the chance to start off on the right foot in its World Cup opener against Algeria. Defense is strong and experienced, while the attack is young and full of flair. At halftime, though, the feel of this Belgian team was that of a bust already. Down 1-0 thanks to an Algerian penalty, Belgium’s manager made a change that instantly picked up the team.
Dries Mertens entered the fray, and he was creating chances, but the Algerians were holding their defensive shape well. Then Belgium put in Marouane Fellaini, and his height and ability to win headers saw him score within five minutes to tie the match at 1-1. Ten minutes later, Belgium broke away on a lightning-fast counter, and Mertens scored to put Belgium up 2-1. From there, the team did not look back, as Algeria was struggling to create decent chances and hold on to the ball. Anything less than a win would have looked bad for a Belgium squad that is predicted to make some noise by many.