Starting the final World Cup of his 13-year international career, Daniel van Buyten helped keep Algeria at bay while his Belgium compatriots came back in the second half to win 2-1.
The 36-year-old stood stiff in the center of Marc Wilmots defense, winning every header he went up for. The lack of playing time he received at club level did not affect his form, his youthful teammates often turning to him to assist in the buildup of play and keep possession. He played a full shift for Wilmots, leading the team with 103 touches and completing all but one of his 88 pass attempts.
With players to his left and his right who are center backs by trade, van Buyten was not overwhelmed with the offensive pressure Algeria could provide. The one defensive lapse for Belgium was on the other side of defense, Jan Vertonghen bringing down Sofiane Feghouli for a penalty kick. Algeria only managed two other shots in the match, van Buyten snuffing out many breaks before they happened.
Beglium have Russia next on the docket in group play, that match on Sunday. Wilmots may make a few defensive changes, perhaps getting Thomas Vermaelen some work, but he has consistently relied on van Buyten to clog the middle.