Football fans across the world will witness a sumptuous encounter between Brazil and Belgium in the quarterfinals of FIFA World Cup 2018, Russia. They will meet each other in Kazan,Russia on 6th July(Friday). Brazil and Belgium defeated Mexico and Japan respectively in their round of 16 matches. Brazil played within themselves but still had enough quality to edge past the Mexicans by 2-0. Willian and Neymar were the standout players in the match. In the other round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan, the former just about managed to trounce the gritty Japanese team with a thrilling 3-2 scoreline. Previously they have met each other in 4 occasions with Brazil winning in 3 matches and losing once to Belgium. They have met only once in the FIFA World Cup in 2002 last-16 stage match, which saw Rivaldo and Ronaldo earn a 2-0 win in Brazil’s favour. Let’s now quickly do a preview of Brazil vs Belgium quarterfinal match and find out their team news,strategies and team formations they are likely to opt for this game.
Team News-There is not much to say about the five times World Champions that hasn’t been already said. Brazil are now a sure shot favourite to win the World Cup with teams like Germany,Argentina and Spain out of the tournament.Brazil are playing like a champion team under their Head Coach Tite. They have certainly rediscovered form in their last two matches, wherein they have showcased their attacking and defending prowess. Brazil’s defensive quartet has been so good in the tournament, that they have just let in one goal. Goalkeeper Allison has hardly been tested in the entire tournament. The central defensive duo of Thiago Silva and Miranda has been the stand out players in the tournament. Their understanding in the defensive line has been exemplary. Left full back Filipe Luis has been a brilliant substitute of an injured Marcelo but doubts remain over Fagner’s game in the right full back position. Danilo,if declared fit, should certainly replace him. Another area of concern would be the defensive midfield position with Casemiro’s suspension. Fernandinho will surely take his place. Paulinho,despite getting a goal against Serbia, looks off colour especially with his ball distribution and snatching. Coutinho,operating in the hole, has been outstanding in the tornament so far. The attacking trio of Neymar and Willian has been exceptional and must surely be giving sleepless nights to the Belgian defenders. Gabriel Jesus though with his quick feet and movement in the box has been giving defenders headache, but he has not yet troubled the scorers. His goal drought may force Tite to start Roberto Firmino over him.
Strategy- Tite will stick to his 4-3-3 team formation although he would be forced to change his winning combination in the Belgium match as Casemiro has been ruled out with a suspension. Tactically Tite will have a hard time handling a quality Belgium side. He has to have a strategy to disrupt Belgium’s compact and fluid midfield play and has to closely mark a dazzling De Bruyne. The full backs will have their work cut out as they have to handle the brilliance of Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens down the flanks. Tite will expect Neymar and Willian to continue their good form from the last game. Willian was outstanding in the last match with his marauding runs from the right wing that bamboozled the opponent’s defense. Although Roberto Firmino will his well rounded game should get a nod over a misfiring Gabriel Jesus,but Tite will try not to disrupt the attacking combination.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Brazil (4-3-3): Allison; Filippe Luis, Silva, Miranda, Fagner; Coutinho, Fernandinho, Paulinho;Neymar,Jesus,Willian.
Team News-Belgium’s narrow escape against Japan in the round of 16, certainly raises questions about their defensive capability but also displays their explosive nature and winning temperament to come back in a game with little more than 20 minutes left. When it was looking all lost for Belgium in the game against Japan, they shifted gears and scored three sumptuous goals in a matter of 20 minutes. If Roberto Martinez’s men can start of their game with the same explosive intent and offensive pressure, then even a strong Brazilian team will have a tough time to handle them.Martinez likes to field a 3-4-2-1 team formation Their team looks almost set with defense being the only area of concern. Thibaut Courtois is doing a decent enough job in goal. Martinez has frequently changed his defensive line throughout the tournament but will definitely start the experienced trio of Toby Alderweireld,Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen in the quareterfinals. Kompany played his first match in the tournament against Japan after a long injury lay-off. He looked a little rusty and off the pace. Surely Martinez has noticed it will try to rectify in his next outing. The midfield quartet of Thomas Meunier,De Bruyne,Alex Witsel and Yannick Carrasco has looked compact and resourceful. The front-line of Eden Hazard,Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens have all been doing well with skipper Hazard being the standout player. Lukaku is a strong contender of the ‘Golden Boot’ award with 4 goals.
Strategy- Roberto Martinez is well known for his superb game reading and is a master strategist. He must have minutely followed the Brazilian team and their game. He will certainly instruct his team to spread their game,keep possession of the ball as much as possible,attack through the wings and try to exploit a relatively weak Brazilian right flank. More freedom will be given to De Bruyne in order to create more passes going forward to Lukakau and Co. Defensively Martinez has to mark Neymar closely with Meunier. The defensive trio has to work out an understanding at the back in order to fend off incessant Brazil attacks.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Belgium (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Ventronghen; Meunier,De Bruyne, Witsel, Carrasco; Mertens,Hazard; Lukaku.
My prediction: Brazil 2-3 Belgium