Belgium knocks soccer powerhouse Brazil out of World Cup
Jul 07 2018 by Johnnie Parsons
Dubbed as a "golden generation", a talented Belgium squad will be keen to re-create history while perennial title contenders Brazil will aim to avoid yet another upset when the two teams meet in the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday.
Brazil left-back Marcelo is back in the starting-11 after recovering from a back spasm which kept him out of the 2-0 win over Mexico.
The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne could cause Brazil's backline plenty of problems and if Belgium can keep things tight defensively they are capable of booking a place in the semi-finals.
His tournament had been a mediocre one until the crucial counter-attack at the end of the match against Japan, where he orchestrated a late victor.
Like Lukaku, De Bruyne has now come up big when his nation needed him the most multiple times this tournament.
"I never lost a game on the tactics board, it's the execution that matters and the execution was magnificent", Martinez added. "Players have to be so courageous to accept it". And these boys changed their tactical disposition in two days. "There was a desire to make it happen".
Following Belgium's win, Fabregas threw shade at Neymar by suggesting that his Chelsea pal had overtaken the Brazilian as the third best player on the planet. "Belgium turned their chances into goals". Only Italy in 2006 and France in 1982 (10 each) have ever had more in a single tournament. The Manchester United man put his personal goal-scoring ambitions to one side and dedicated himself to his task of working the channels and pinning back Brazil's full-backs. If they lose it would be considered normal as they are facing the five-time winners and current favourites, so this is a great chance for the Belgian players to achieve a memorable win.
De Bruyne, playing in a more advanced role than he had in Belgium's previous four matches, was at the heart of his team's best work, managing the transition from rearguard defence to attack with vision, pace and accuracy.
He can, therefore, expect to come up against not only Hazard but also Thibaut Courtois who will nearly certainly man the posts for Belgium.
Belgium is now on a 24-match unbeaten streak. "There's a real desire to be on the football pitch, we can't wait to be there so I feel we are as ready as we'll ever be".
And, as the second half wore on, it looked less likely that Brazil would get back into the game - however, in the 76th minute, Philippe Coutinho spotted Renato Augusto in space in the Belgian penalty area, and whipped in an inviting cross for his teammate to head firmly beyond the reach of Thibaut Courtois. Fernandinho's own-goal ensured for the first time since March 2017 that Brazil was trailing in a competitive match.