If Belgium can pass the Brazil test, then they can start to believe. Having scored 12 goals in their four matches in Russia, the Red Devils have shown they can score goals, but they also concede. Keven De Bruyne has not sparkled as expected – the match against Brazil might as well provide the stage to show his best.
But can they score more than Brazil?
The Selecao have conceded just one goal in Russia [that disputed goal against Switzerland] and have scored two goals each in their last three, with Neymar, despite the histrionics hitting top gear and Willian showing his best form.
Tite will know that his team’s defensive nous will be tested, as they have not been on Friday evening and with Casemiro suspended, the test will be a greater one.
The difference between the two talented sides, as Belgium manager, Roberto Martinez put it is ‘knowhow’. “The difference is that Brazil has the know-how of what it takes to win a World Cup. They have a psychological advantage on us,” Martinez told FIFA’s official website.
Head to head
17/06/02 WOC Brazil 2 – 0 Belgium
Current Form [Last 5 matches]
|Austria 0 – 3 Brazil||Belgium 4 – 1 Costa Rica|
|Brazil 1 – 1 Switzerland||Belgium 3 – 0 Panama|
|Brazil 2 – 0 Costa Rica||Belgium 5 – 2 Tunisia|
|Serbia 0 – 2 Brazil||England 0 – 1 Belgium|
|Brazil 2 – 0 Mexico||Belgium 3 – 2 Japan|
Three duels to watch
Miranda v Romelu Lukaku
Miranda is not afraid of physical battles – one that he will be in against Lukaku, who despite some niggling injury has shown great awareness and instinct in Russia.
Fagner v Eden Hazard
With Danilo still struggling to get match fit, Tite will persevere with Fagner, who has been composed since his introduction but against the wily and dangerous Eden Hazard, he will be introduced to one of the best players in the world. His reputation will either rise or sink with this confrontation.
Neymar v Toby Alderweireld
In Tottenham’s Alderweireld, Neymar will be up against a no-frills defender, who does his job the best he can. The PSG star has not set Russia alight but he needs to stay upright more, to cause havoc against Belgium.
Quotes to Ponder
“Belgium is not just Lukaku. Certainly, it’s a very strong attacking team but the main way to stop the opponent is to be aware of all the players.”- Miranda, Brazil Captain
“We are going to look them in the eye. But if we make this a match of individuals, then we’ll lose.” – Vincent Kompany, Belgium Squad Captain
Stadium: Kazan Arena is a 45,000-capacity Stadium built on the banks of the Kazanka River “with a media façade, which is one of the largest in the world for a sports stadium and is comprised of three HD plasma panels measuring 4,200 square metres.” [Courtesy FIFA]
Referee in charge: 45-year-old Serb, Milorad Mazic will need four eyes in this encounter with dribbles and diving from Neymar and Eden Hazard and the others. He has taken charge of two matches in Russia – South Korea-Mexico and Senegal-Colombia, in which he showed eight yellow cards, no red cards, and gave one penalty.
World Cup fact: Belgium have had three substitutes score three of their 12 goals in Russia.
Prediction: Brazil 3-2 Belgium