RIO DE JANEIRO, June 23. /ITAR-TASS/. The defeat of the Russian team in the match against the Belgians and a draw in the US vs. Portugal match became the main events on the eleventh day of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The Russian footballers' setback in the Group H match against the Belgians was a thing apart. Following a draw in a match against South Korea, which turned out a complete surprise to many, the Fabio Capello-trained team were in need of a win. It was precisely that match against the more masterly Belgians that proved one of decisive games for the Russians in their striving to qualify for a playoff. The match was played on the legendary Maracana Stadium in Rio.
The teams alternated attacks, with Russian players acting more keenly, playing according to a 4-3-3 diagram, both positionally and in counterattacks. Positive changes in the Russian team's performance were manifest, particularly in what concerned rivalry in midfield and in accuracy of passes. After the break, the Belgians, within a spell from the 45th to 84th minutes of the game, did not construe a single worthwhile attack, whereas the Russian footballers had quite a number of scoring opportunities. However, at the end of the game, the Belgian team managed to intercept the initiative, which yielded results. In the 88th minute, Chelsea halfback Eden Hazard, upon easily outperforming Russian fullbacks, made a shootout to the goal keeping line, from which Divock Origi sent the ball into the goal cage in a poweful shot 1-0. So, the Belgians, upon gaining six points, qualified for the Round of 16 ahead of schedule.
The national teams of Algeria and South Korea, who also play in Group H, displayed a lively exchange of scoring shots to the joy of fans who gathered at the Beira Rio Stadium in Porto Alegri. The meet ended in a score of 4-2 in favor of the Algerians, formerly an outsider of the Group, who have now turned into contendes to qualify for the Round of 16.
The situation in the Group has become intricate. The Russian team, despite defeat by the Belgians, still have chances to qualify. Prior to tho concluding series, Group H is headed by the Belgians, who, upon gaining six points, have secured one of two places in the tournament's playoff. Further down the list are the Algerians (three points), the Russians (1), and the South Koreans (1). In the concluding series, Russia will play against the Algerians, and the Belgians are to meet with the South Korean team.
In the event of an equality of points of two or more teams, a goal average will be the first additional indicator of a team's advantage. The overall number of goals scored is the second indicator. At present, the Belgians have a goal average of 3-2, the Algerians 5-4, the Russians 1-2, and the South Koreans 3-5.
In order to qualify for the Round of 16, the Russian team must gain the upper hand over the Algerians and then wait, hoping for the South Koreans' conceding or drawing in a match against the Belgians. In that case, the Russians would directly qualify for a playoff. If the South Koreans outperform the Belgians, additional indicators would come into play. For example, a 1-0 win would suit the Russians perfectly well along with the South Koreans' scoring 1-0. But if the Russians, for example, win 1-0 and the South Koreans 2-0, the Asian team would qualify for a playoff. Both games are to be played on June 27.
The US team was close to producing a sensation, but in the last seconds the Americans missed a win in the game played in Group G against Portugal. The Portuguese team, which conceded to the Germans in the first match (0-4), captured the initiative in the match from the first minutes and opened the score already in the 5th minute through the efforts of Nani. However, in the second half, the Americans, showing mettle, surged ahead resultant of goals scored by Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey in the 64th and 81st minutes respectively. However, the Portuguese made an attempt at a decisive onslaught and succeeded in avoiding defeat 30 seconds before the end of the game, achieving a draw due to Silvestre Varela 2-2.
The situation in this group also becomes vague, because all the teams contend for qualifying. In the next series, the USA will play against the Germans and Portugal is to meet with the team of Ghana. Both games will be played on June 26. It is precisely these games that will determine who would participate in the Round of 16.
Noteworthy among non-football events was a procession of 500 Russian fans ahead of the national team's match through one of Rio's most famous streets, Avenida Atlantica, adjacent to Copacabana beach. Despite call from the procession organizers to put on white slacks and white T-shirts, most fans ignored the request. However, about one-fifth of the marchers achieved their long-cherished dream of marching through Rio in white slacks. The "Russia! Russia!" chants, a mass singing of the national anthem, and an organized procession attracted the attention of local residents and other teams' fans who cheered the Russians, having photo pictures taken together with them. It is also noteworthy that the red T-shirts of the Russian national team are, in general, highly popular among Rio residents; many Brazilians regard this sports dress as very beautiful and wear it with pleasure during World Cup Finals.
The procession was closely monitored by the police but in a utterly friendly atmosphere. No incidens were recorded.