Brazil return to action, final four make bow






MATCHDAY PREVIEW – Matchday 6 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ sees the two teams in Group A with a victory under their belts clash in Fortaleza. Brazil, who will take to the pitch for the 99th time in the tournament on Tuesday, have a chance to take a massive step towards the knockout stages against Mexico, who emerged victorious from their closely contested game against Cameroon on Friday (1-0). The familiar foes have met 38 times; Brazil have come out on top 22 times, while the spoils have been shared on six occasions. At the World Cup, A Seleção also enjoy a superior record, having won their three encounters with a combined goal difference of 11 to zero.

Elsewhere, the four nations that make up Group H finally take centre stage. Returning to the World Cup after a 12-year absence, Belgium will be looking to get off to a solid start against Algeria. Both teams were unbeaten during their warm-up games and have only previously played each other twice in friendly matches (3-1 in favour of Belgium and 0-0). Russia, meanwhile, are keen to make a mark on the competition in view of the hosting duties they will take on in 2018. Their opponents, Korea Republic, have made it clear that they regard qualifying from the group stage for the third time in their history as a realistic possibility.

The matches
Belgium-Algeria (Group H), Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 13.00 (local time)
Brazil-Mexico (Group A), Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 16.00 (local time)
Russia-Korea Republic (Group H), Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, 18.00 (local time)

Did you know?
Young guns
On 17 June 1982, Northern Ireland’s Norman Whiteside became, at the age of 17 years and 42 days, the youngest player to ever appear at the World Cup. Likely over-excited by the occasion, he got himself booked in the first minute of his country’s duel with Yugoslavia. The most precocious World Cup Final goalscorer, meanwhile, remains Pele, who scored a brace against Sweden (5-2) in 1950 aged just 17 years and 249 days.

Prolific devil
Belgian coach Marc Wilmots achieved many feats during his successful career, but one of which he is particularly proud is scoring five total goals at the World Cup (two in 1998 and three in 2002), a record for Les Diables Rouges. The former forward’s fifth goal – in a 3-2 win over Russia on 14 June 2002 – remains the last scored by a Belgian in the prestigious event.

Home or away
Of the 23 players that make up Korea Republic’s squad in Brazil, no fewer than 17 ply their trade abroad, 10 of which compete in Europe. By contrast, Fabio Capello’s Russian charges all play in their domestic league.

Suspended players

Check it out
Marc Wilmots is a coach who boasts solid experience (70 caps, 28 goals) and inspires respect and trust among his players. Far from being intimidated by the failures of his predecessors, Wilmots took up the challenge of leading Belgium to the promised land in 2012. Two years later, he had guided Belgium to Brazil 2014 by “uniting the team and giving it a soul.” On you can read or listen to the interview he gave the day after their hard-fought qualification. As for Mexico manager Miguel Herrera, his goal is straightforward, as he revealed in a recent interview: “Beating Brazil would put us on top.” Commanding Algeria defender Madjid Bougherra also recently shared his thoughts on the World Cup with FIFA, stating that his aim was to “Give 100 per cent and enjoy it.”

On this day
On 17 June 1970, the semi-finals of Mexico 1970, held in Guadalajara and Mexico City, saw four former winners vie for a place in the competition’s showpiece match, producing two matches packed with goals and excitement. Clodoaldo, Jairzinho and Rivelino helped Brazil see off Uruguay 3-1, but it was Pele who stole the show by famously dummying the ball as he ran through on Ladislao Mazurkiewicz’s goal, creating a moment that would go down in World Cup history. At Estadio Azteca, in front of 102,444 raucous fans, Italy were on course for a tight 1-0 victory until Karl-Heinz Schnellinger equalised in injury time for West Germany. There then followed one of the most action-packed, back-and-forth extra-time periods in the history of the tournament, at the end of which La Nazionale emerged victorious 4-3.

Play and win
Round 1 of the McDonald’s FIFA World Cup Fantasy game is now complete. Once points totals to date are calculated, prizes will be handed out to the three highest placed entrants, including official armbands signed by national team captains at Brazil 2014.



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