South Korea vs Belgium match preview: It's time for Romulu Lukaku to deliver if Belgium are going to live up to 'dark horses' reputation

Belgium's unconvincing start has coincided with Lukaku being substituted early in both games

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The Independent Football

Belgium need their Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku to begin delivering the form he showed on loan at Everton last season if they are to live up to expectations as one of the dark horse of the World Cup

The Belgians have had an unconvincing start, winning late against Russia and unconvincingly after a poor first half against Algeria. Lukaku, leading the line in Brazil because of an injury to Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke, has been substituted before the hour mark in both games. He was clearly unhappy when removed by coach Marc Wilmots against Fabio Capello’s Russians.

Lukaku claimed that the substitute who replaced him against Algeria – Divol Origi – had the advantage of facing tired defenders.

"When I played at the start of the game the (Algeria) defence was strong and it was difficult to get through. When I left the field, the defence was tired," he said.

"It was easier for Divok Origi. He had a good game but it was less of a test for him.” Origi may start instead, against South Korea here tonight.


Though Lukaku is eloquent and intelligent, the view from Belgium is that the 21-year-old’s view of himself, as a very top striker, does not tally with the level his game is at. He is not afraid of challenging Wilmots though.

Eden Hazard did look more impressive against the Russians – a win which guaranteed Belgium safe passage to the last 16. They need a point against South Korea to ensure they top Group H, probably avoiding Germany and setting up a last 16 match with the United States in Salvador.

That is a bonus. They had feared meeting Portugal. “We intend to carry on winning – each time, we inspire more fear,” said Hazard, the Chelsea midfielder. “That’s ideal in terms of getting the teams we meet to come at us with their heads as low as possible.”

South Korea need to win in Sao Paulo, and for Russia to avoid defeat to Algeria in Curtiba, to stand a chance of progressing.