BRAZIL, BELGIUM TAKE CENTRE STAGE

Brazil against Belgium is the pick of the quarter-final clashes at the 2018 World Cup with two of the strongest teams left in the tournament set to collide for a place in the last four.

It will be the first really big test for both sides and one should learn a lot about Tite’s Brazil and Roberto Martinez’s Belgium in Kazan.

Brazil’s progress has been the smoother of the two with no real alarms yet, despite a somewhat unconvincing draw in their opening fixture against Switzerland.

Brazil have reeled off three straight 2-0 wins since, the first time since 2006 that they’ve won three consecutive matches inside 90 minutes at a World Cup.

Defensively they’ve looked very solid, however they are yet to face a team with anything like the attacking quality that Belgium possess. Even Mexico were curiously cautious in the last round, never really committing enough bodies forward to test this Brazilian back-line.

Belgium will certainly be bolder and they’ve showcased plenty of attacking quality so far at this tournament and in fact the Belgians are the top scorers in the competition with three goals per game on average.

But the European side were dealt a real scare in the last 16, surprisingly trailing 2-0 against Japan and seemingly heading out before staging a dramatic late comeback, to win 3-2.

They certainly can’t afford to give the Brazilians a two-goal head-start and Tite’s side would have been able to draw positives from some of Belgium’s defending at this tournament.

They also conceded two against Tunisia in the group stage and with Neymar starting to look sharp and Philippe Coutinho and Willian both enjoying good tournaments, Brazil look well capable of exposing any problems Belgium have at the back.

The South American giants may also enjoy playing against a team that is willing to defend a higher line, as it should give them space to play on the break and they can be devastating at counter-attacking football with the pace they have in their side.

However Belgium’s side is packed with individual quality and players such as Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne are capable of producing a moment of magic at any time that could see Brazil’s defence breached for the first time since the opening game.

The suspension of holding midfielder Casemiro is also significant and his absence could just leave Brazil’s back four more exposed than they have been so far in Russia.

While they would have expected to win comfortably, the Belgian dressing room must be buzzing after the comeback against Japan and if they can carry that momentum into this one and really try and take the fight to Brazil, this could develop into a cracking contest.
 

Navigate through the articles
Previous article BIG GUNS PRIMED FOR LAST-EIGHT BATTLES AKINFEEV’S ‘FOOT OF GOD’ ANSWERS RUSSIA’S WORLD CUP PRAYERS Next article
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Search our Site Advertising on MaltaSport