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World Cup, Day 6: Gio and Mexico in action, and Group H finally gets to strut its stuff

Everyone seems to be excited about Belgium, and they finally open their tournament action today against Algeria. Russia and South Korea, the other teams in this group, meet later. Plus, Gio dos Santos and Mexico take on Brazil--let's hope the officiating doesn't become the story in this one.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s today’s preview/match thread/discussion post on Brazil 2014. Enjoy the matches!

12 noon ET:  Belgium vs. Algeria, Group H.
Villarreal connections:  Not much on either team, though Jérémy Perbet gained renown for topping the Jupiler League in scoring.
Transfer targets:  Most of Belgium’s star-studded side plays in England, so that’s out of our price range. Algeria…I’ve got nothing, though Sofiane Feghouli is a firebrand for our neighbors Valencia.
Quick preview:  Belgium is a popular darkhorse, though their inexperience may shine through. A simple-looking group should help, but a round of 16 matchup against the runner-up in the Group of Death (Group G) could be a challenge. Then Argentina could follow in the quarterfinals.
No reason that Algeria cannot get past Russia and South Korea to escape the group. There’s plenty of resolve in this bunch – quality may be lacking. US fans know their tenacity well from South Africa 2010.
Prediction:  4-0. I think the Belgians are ready to put on a show.  (Allen says: Algeria are better than people think, and Belgium hasn't been to the WC in a long time.  More like 1-0 or 2-1)

3 pm ET:  Brazil vs. Mexico, Group A.
Villarreal connections:  Back to Giovani dos Santos – the half-Brazilian, Portuguese-speaking man-of-the-match in Mexico’s opener. Javier Aquino too, though he will likely ride the pine again.
Ravi’s Neymar-to-Villarreal talk can only be heating up after a double in the opener against Croatia. Gio should have had a double too if not for some questionable officiating. And there’s a chance Gabriel Paulista could be in the canarinha mix in four years’ time.
Group situation:  Brazil 3, Mexico 3, Cameroon 0, Croatia 0. A winner today almost certainly moves on – a draw would suit both. Will be interesting to see how Miguel Herrera plays it.
Quick preview:  Some are expecting the match of the group stage – I could see that. Mexico always gets up for the big matches but falls a bit short. El Tri should have plenty of confidence after creating a ton of chances in the opener, and Mexico beat Brazil to win the London Olympics. Gio and Aquino were both in the squad.
Prediction:  2-2. Lots of excitement, but the status quo prevails.  (Allen says: Did you know a "psychic" turtle predicted Mexico would win? No, I don't see it either)

6 pm ET
:  Russia vs. South Korea, Group H.
Villarreal connections:  Not much on either side. Russians seem to stay home or prefer the EPL, and the South Koreans move to the EPL or increasingly the Bundesliga.
Transfer targets:  Russia would be an interesting market for Villarreal to explore. We’ve already helped Wakaso Mubarak move to Rubin Kazan (we’re hoping to pick up Victor Sánchez in lieu of the €1.7MM fee that Espanyol still owes us), and Marco Rubén moved to what the Russians seem to think is still their territory (geopolitical joke). Of course, if Fabio Capello’s trend means anything, then Russians will be wary of playing overseas – it’s a completely domestic-based squad in Brazil.
South Korea has some great young talents in Germany, but with that league’s economic power, it will be hard to lure anyone away.
Quick preview:  See above – second place is up for grabs in Group H. I’d say Russia is the favorite, but the Koreans could pull a surprise. These are much lower-profile sides than they used to be.
Prediction:  Russia 2-0. (Allen: I think South Korea will be pretty poor, to be honest)