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World Cup

  • June 17, 2014
  • • 17:00
  • • Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
  • Referee: M. Rodríguez
  • • Attendance: 56800

Belgium - Algeria Preview: Lukaku passed fit for World Cup opener

Belgium - Algeria Preview: Lukaku passed fit for World Cup opener

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Marc Wilmots has concerns over Kevin De Bruyne and Divock Origi but the Chelsea striker is set to lead the line against the African nation on Tuesday

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has been declared fully fit for his side’s World Cup opener against Algeria in Belo Horizonte on Monday.

The Chelsea forward, who spent last season on loan at Everton, injured his ankle in the Belgians’ 1-0 friendly win against Tunisia last week but resumed full training on Wednesday and told the media on Sunday he was looking forward to participating in his nation’s first World Cup since 2002.

Lukaku is set to start for Belgium after Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke was ruled out of the tournament with a serious injury in April.

The 21-year-old is in fine form after scoring against Sweden earlier this month and then netting a hat-trick in Belgium’s 5-1 win over Luxembourg, although that match is not now recognised by Fifa as coach Marc Wilmots made seven substitutions instead of the permitted six.

Wilmots, now 45, is the last Belgian player to have scored in a World Cup after netting against Russia in 2002.

Belgium later lost out to Brazil in the second round, with Wilmots (appearing in his fourth World Cup) seeing a strike controversially disallowed in that match against the eventual winners.

Back in Brazil as coach, Wilmots is sweating on the fitness of Kevin De Bruyne and Divock Origi, although both are expected to shake off ankle problems in time for the game against Algeria at the Estadio Mineirao.

The north African side are participating in their fourth World Cup and will be aiming to make it out of the group stage for the very first time.

The side coached by Vahid Halilhodzic overcame Burkina Faso on away goals to qualify for this competition and warmed up for the showpiece in Brazil by beating Armenia 3-1 and Romania 2-1 recently.

Midfielder Hassan Yebda is doubtful for the Group H clash with an ankle injury.

Players to watch

R. Lukaku

Position: Attacker

Games: 4

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  • 0
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The 21-year-old striker claimed on Sunday that he loves playing under pressure and said he was excited to be part of Belgium’s first World Cup since 2002. Already on fine form, a strong showing in Brazil could also define his future as he looks to leave Chelsea later this summer.

Y. Brahimi

Position: Midfielder

Games: 3

  • 1
  • 0
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Impressive for Granada in La Liga last season, the attacking midfielder is quick and agile, with bundles of skill. His runs from deep will provide Algeria with a useful attacking outlet against Belgium in a match in which they will need to make the most of their opportunities on the break.

Editor's Prediction

Algeria have done well in recent games but still look light defensively and Belgium – as one of the outsiders to win this competition – should have far too much quality for the north Africans in this one.

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