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Rediff.com  » Sports » FIFA World Cup: Top scorers meet best defence in Brazil v Belgium clash

FIFA World Cup: Top scorers meet best defence in Brazil v Belgium clash

Last updated on: July 05, 2018 10:08 IST

Mexico's Carlos Vela walks off dejected as Brazil's Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and teammates celebrate victory after the match

IMAGE: Mexico's Carlos Vela walks off dejected as Brazil's Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and teammates celebrate victory after the match. Brazil have conceded only one goal in the World Cup so far. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Belgium's quarter-final battle with Brazil will be a classic encounter between an unstoppable force and an immovable object when the tournament's joint best defence comes up against its most free-scoring attack in Kazan on Friday.

Brazil have conceded only one goal in this World Cup, the equal most stingy rearguard along with Uruguay, and allowed only five shots on target in four games, the fewest of any side.

Belgium, meanwhile, are the tournament's top scorers, banging in 12 goals in their four games so far.

 

Eight of those goals came against Tunisia and Panama, and slim wins against England and Japan have cast some doubt on whether they can impose themselves against better teams.

Romelu Lukaku scores Belgium's third goal in the Group G match against PanamaBelgium's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring their second goal with Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens  

IMAGE: Belgium's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring their second goal with Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

The much-lauded midfield struggled in the Round of 16 tie against a Japan side who never gave them time on the ball and it was only when Marouane Fellaini came on in the second half to provide some muscle that Belgium took control of the contest.

The Belgians may want to adopt that more robust approach from the start against Brazil in order to give midfield maestros Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne time to make decisive passes.

Brazil v Belgium factbox

Brazil play Belgium in a World Cup quarter-final in Kazan on Friday:

Where: Kazan Arena

Capacity: 42,873

When: Friday July 6, 2100 local (2330 IST, 1800 GMT/1400 ET)

Referee: TBA

Key stats:

*Brazil have not lost in their last 16 competitive matches.

*Belgium are unbeaten in 22 matches. Their last defeat in a competitive match was to Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

*Brazil are unbeaten at the tournament. They started with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland then beat Costa Rica (2-0), Serbia (2-0) and Mexico (2-0).

* Belgium have won all of their matches in Russia, beating Panama (3-0), Tunisia (5-2), England (1-0) and Japan (3-2)

* Brazil have won the World Cup five times but have been knocked out in the quarter-finals in two of the last three tournaments.

* Belgium reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and the semi-finals in 1986 when they were beaten by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina.

* Brazil have kept 19 clean sheets in 25 international matches under coach Tite. They conceded precisely one goal in each of the other six games.

* Belgium have scored more goals than any other team at the tournament (12).

* Brazil have won three of four penalty shootouts at the World Cup, including the one that decided the 1994 final against Italy.

* Belgium won their only World Cup penalty shootout against Spain in the quarter-finals of the 1986 tournament.

* Brazil forward Neymar has had 24 shots in Russia, more than anyone else at the tournament.

* Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku is the second highest goalscorer at the tournament with four.

* Brazil's Casemiro will miss the match after picking up two yellow cards.

* Yellow cards will be wiped after the completion of the quarter-finals but Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Filipe Luis all have a single caution and would still miss the semi-final if Brazil get through and they pick up another in Kazan.

* Kevin de Bruyne, Jan Vertonghen, Leander Dendoncker, Thomas Meunier and Youri Tielemans are in the same position for Belgium.

Previous meetings:

Brazil and Belgium have played each other four times. Brazil has won three of the clashes, including the most recent in the Round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup. Belgium won the first, a friendly, 5-1 in 1963.

 

 

"We will need power," Belgium's coach Roberto Martinez said in what could be a hint towards his intentions.

"We have to defend as well as we can and then cause them pain when we have the ball."

Brazil will likely start with Fernandinho in place of the suspended Casemiro, a change that gives them their own added muscle, but the South Americans could miss the Real Madrid midfielder's drive going forward.

Brazil's players celebrate a goal with Philippe Coutinho  

IMAGE: Brazil's players celebrate a goal with Philippe Coutinho. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

The match, however, may be won at the other end of the field.

Belgium's three central defenders are all imposing figures but two of them, Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen, are the wrong side of 30.

With Kompany still finding his feet after his latest period out through injury, Brazil's swarming attacks could prove productive against the aging Belgian backline.

On the flanks, Willian and Philippe Coutinho can stretch defences, and fire in shots and crosses, while Neymar and Gabriel Jesus can also pull defences apart from more central positions.

Belgium will need their wing backs to be operating at full tilt if they are to get back and assist.

Marcelo is fit again for Brazil and could return in place of Filipe Luis at left back, while winger Douglas Costa is back from injury and will be on the bench.

 

Source:
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