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RIO DE JANEIRO, June 22, /ITAR-TASS/. The national teams of Belgium and Russia will meet in the second match of the group stage at the Soccer World Cup on Sunday, June 22. The game will start at 20:00 Moscow time at the Maracana stadium. If Belgians win, they will definitely qualify for the last 16. Any other result will leave good chances for both teams to participate in the 1/8 of the final.
The Red Devils from Belgium confirmed their class in the opening match of the group stage. They outplayed Algiers 2:1 while the Russian squad drew a match with South Koreans. The second match of the tournament will really be crucial for the Russian squad. A defeat will practically crush all hopes even though the final matches will decide everything on June 27 with any results of the second match of the group round.
Both Belgium and Russia missed the 2002 World Cups. However, Russia’s 2014 squad consists only of players of national tournaments who are little known to average foreign fans. On the contrary, Belgium’s coach Marc Milmots has gathered players from leading European clubs.
The national squads of Russia and Belgium have met each other eight times. The rivalry started with two victories by the Soviet team in 1970 (4:1) and 1982 (1:0). In 1986, the two squads met in the last 16 at the Soccer World Cup in Leon, Mexico. That was one of the most memorable matches, which the Soviet team lost. The last time the Belgians lost to the Russian (Soviet) national team was 32 years ago.
Most experts consider the Belgians to be the favourites for the June 22 match. How the Russians played vs. South Koreans could hardly impress anybody.
The Russian national squad arrived in Rio de Janeiro from Itu (Sao Paulo) on Saturday.
The match will take place at the famous Maracana stadium. The Belgian Royal couple -King Philippe and Queen Matilda - is expected to be present at the game. About 75,000 tickets have been sold for the match, including 10,000-11,000 tickets bought by Russian fans.