BRAZIL VS. BELGIUM – HIGHLIGHTS & GOALS
The 58th match of the World Cup is slated to be one of the most enticing fixtures so far, as 5 time champions – Brazil clashing with Belgium’s golden generation. Both of these sides are on tremendous winning runs pre-dating the tournament, with the Selecao going 15 matches unbeaten in all competitions; a number that, while impressive, pales in evaluation to Belgium’s 23 without loss.
After finishing first above England, Tunisia and Panama, Roberto Martinez’s team mounted an extraordinary comeback to progress to this stage – beating Japan 3-2 after falling two goals behind. Late heroics from Nacer Chadli ensured the Red Devils’ passage to their second quarter-finals appearance in a row, after having previously failed to get to that stage of the tournament since 1986.
Tite’s squad emerged from a difficult group in pole position, topping: Costa Rica, Switzerland and Serbia. The Selecao then passed a stern test of will by beating Mexico 2-0 in their last-16 tie to set up a date with Belgium. While Neymar’s antics have been stealing the headlines, it should not be forgotten that the PSG forward has directly contributed to three of Brazil’s seven goals in Russia whilst receiving incredibly tight marking from opposition defenders.
This World Cup for Brazil has been founded on defensive stability. After conceding in their opening match of the World Cup in a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, Brazil have gone four matches without being compromised at the back, outscoring their opponents 6-0 in three matches since.
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium have approached the tournament in polar-opposite fashion, with Thibaut Courtois allowing four goals in four matches. The Red Devils, however, are more than capable of unlocking a defence, having found the back of the net 12 times so far with eight different goal-scorers. This Belgium side is packed with attacking talent, and they have the ability to punish lazy defending from anywhere on the field.
Brazil Starting XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Paulinho, Fernandinho, Coutinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar.
Brazil Subs: Geromel, Filipe Luis, Douglas Costa, Renato Augusto, Marquinhos, Cassio, Fred, Roberto Firmino, Taison, Ederson.
Belgium Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld; Nacer Chadli, Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Thomas Meunier; Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne; Romelu Lukaku.
Belgium Subs: Dedryck Boyata, Dries Mertens, Michy Batshuayi, Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels, Leander Dendoncker, Thorgan Hazard, Youri Tielemans, Adnan Januzaj, Yannick Carrasco, Mousa Dembele, Thomas Vermaelen.
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