Five key players in World Cup Group H:
Alexander Kerzhakov - Russia
Born: 27/11/1982 - 81 caps
Alexander Kerzhakov is the only member of Russia's squad with experience of the World Cup finals. He made made one appearance as a substitute in 2002, the last time Russia qualified.
This time, Russia will really need the goals of the 31-year-old all-time leading scorer for Zenit St Petersburg who has scored well over 200 goals in all competitions. Coach Fabio Capello made him Russia's number one striker when he took over and dropped Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavyluchenko.
Eden Hazard - Belgium
Born: 7/1/1991 - 44 caps
One of the most brilliant wingers in European football, and sometimes one of the laziest, according to critics, it is time for Eden Hazard to show his worth on the international stage.
Hazard, who comes from a footballing family, is known for his fearlessness in attacking opposing defences and the speed with which he can control the ball.
He made his debut for Belgium at the age of 17 and moved to Chelsea in the English Premier League in 2012 for a reported 32 million pounds ($54 million) after inspiring Lille to the 2011 French title. There is much talk of a move to Paris St Germain if he can inspire Belgium to greater things at the World Cup.
Axel Witsel - Belgium
Born: 12/1/1989 - 47 caps
Ever present in Belgium's qualifying campaign in which the team won seven games on the trot, the 25-year-old Axel Witsel has become a silent force in the national team's rise.
Witsel left Belgium's Standard Liege for Zenit St Petersburg in 2009 in the wake of a horror tackle which badly injured an Anderlecht rival and left Witsel's family facing threats.
But he has won his way back into Belgian hearts with assured, powerful performances in midfield, setting up Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku for marauding attacks. The Russian side paid about 50 million euros for him and anyone who wants Witsel after the World Cup will have to match that.
Islam Slimani - Algeria
Born: 18/6/1988 - 20 caps
The Sporting Lisbon striker is one of the Algerians being keenly watched at the World Cup and one of the reasons noone is taking the Desert Foxes for granted now.
The 25-year-old number nine was bought for less than 15,000 euros when he moved from Algerian third division side Cheraga to first division Belouizdad in 2009. After becoming Sporting Lisbon's number one striker, there is now talk of a 10 million euro transfer.
A regular in the Algerian side for two years, he is known for his power and occasional hot-headed outbursts that coach Vahid Halihodzic has tried to curtail.
Son Heung-Min - South Korea
Born 8/7/1992 - 24 caps
Son Heung-Min of German side Bayer Leverkusen is one of a new generation that South Korea's 2002 World Cup hero Hong Myong-Bo can bring a new era of glory to the Asian side.
Leverkusen paid a reported club record 10 million euros to bring the 21-year-old forward from Hamburg a year ago. His goals, including a hat-trick against Hamburg, have helped them to qualify for the 2014-15 Champions League.
Son's father also played for the national team and he has started as a ball boy at FC Seoul. He dropped out of school to join Hamburg's academy and turned down a chance to play for South Korea at the London Olympics so he could concentrate on his Bundesliga career.