While much of the focus and attention in Group H will be on the potentially titanic clash between Belgium and Russia, there’s also the small matter of Korea Republic vs Algeria.
Pitting two teams out to surprise at this World Cup against each other, the match will also serve as an opportunity to showcase some of the most talented young players from the two opposing nations – many of whom could soon be heading to the Premier League.
Kim Shin-wook – Ulsan Hyundai
Standing tall at 6ft 5in, the striker dubbed the ‘Korean Peter Crouch” has enjoyed a prolific couple of years in the K-League, scoring 48 goals over his last three campaigns to earn a place in Korea Republic’s World Cup plans.
His form hasn’t gone unnoticed on English shores either, with Everton previously keen on a deal for the striker. Queens Park Rangers were also thought to be tracking the 26-year-old and with both clubs in the market for a new forward this summer, Shin-wook could soon be on the move.
Faouzi Ghoulam – Napoli
Stoke City and West Ham United were both thought to be eager to capture Algerian full-back Faouzi Ghoulam last January after seeing the 23-year-old impress with St Etienne in France. Since then the defender has opted for a move to Serie A with Napoli though and the chance to play Champions League football.
However should he continue to play well for both club and country, then another Premier League offer could soon be forthcoming, with the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United all on the hunt for young alternatives in the full back position.
Hong Jeong-ho – FC Augsburg
Augsburg were the surprise package of the Bundesliga last term, helped in some part by the fine defensive performances of players like Hong Jeong-Ho, who is expected to play a prominent role for Korea Republic at these World Cup finals.
Despite impressing when he does player, Jeong-ho is far from a guaranteed starter with the German club and should an offer from England emerge, it is likely that the combination of financial and playing perks will be too good to turn down.
Islam Slimani – Sporting Lisbon
Arguably Algeria’s most dangerous player going forward, the 26-year-old forward has impressed since moving from CR Belouizdad to Sporting Lisbon in August last year.
A tally of eight goals in 26 appearances is a solid return from his debut season and a series of impressive displays in Brazil could prompt West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce to rekindle his interest in the striker, following an attempt to bring Slimani to the club back in January.
Kim Young-Gwon – Guangzhou Evergrande
Viewed among the most talented players in the world not currently plying their trade in a major European or South American league, Kim Young-Gwon is a fan favourite at mega-rich Guangzhou Evergrande, helping the club to win Chinese Super League and Chinese FA Cup in 2012 as well as the AFC Champions League and another Chinese Super League in 2013.
He’s already garnered praise from a World Cup winning coach too, with Guangzhou Evergrande boss Marcelo Lippi previously declaring: “I mentioned him in a chat with Ferguson and he is capable of playing for clubs like Manchester United.”
An impressive few games here and the Red Devils may not be the only ones taking a look.