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World Cup Finals 2014
Match of the Day Live: Belgium v Russia
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If you want to sum up the two conflicting schools of thought surrounding the route to international success, watch this match. The last time these two sides met in a World Cup was in the 2002 group stages. That also, incidentally, was the last time either side qualified for a World Cup.
Russia have used the intervening win in their bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Belgium, meanwhile, have been quietly building one of the most consistently successful player export businesses in Europe. Eleven of the current squad play in the Premier League, including national and club captain Vincent Kompany; only three of their current squad are based in Belgium.
By contrast, all 23 of Russia’s World Cup squad are safely ensconced in Mother Russia, the only team in the tournament to have all their internationals playing in their own domestic league. It’s a clash of footballing administration that should have FA chairman Greg Dyke reaching for his notebook. Domestic league strength or international pedigree? You decide.
Belgium v Russia (Kick-off 5.00pm). Coverage of the World Cup Group H clash at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the sides play their second match of the group stage. The last time these nations met at a World Cup finals was in 2002, when they were also paired in the same group, and an enthralling 3-2 victory for the Belgians ensured they progressed to the last 16 at the expense of Russia, although they would soon be eliminated by eventual winners Brazil. Belgium have not appeared at a major tournament since then, but while the national team has been out of the global spotlight, they have used that time to develop a fine crop of players and qualified without tasting defeat, winning eight of their 10 games in the process. However, things almost did not go to plan for them in the opener, as they went 1-0 down against Algeria before goals from substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens gave them a hard-fought win. Russia have not competed at a World Cup finals themselves since 2002, and they also had to work hard in their first match, eventually earning a 1-1 draw against South Korea. Presented by Gary Lineker, with commentary by Jonathan Pearce and Martin Keown.
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