At a FIFA World Cup that is becoming the reason behind many raised eyebrows with every match day - mainly due to the fall of giants, Brazil and Belgium are among the heavyweights that have managed to hold tight in the whirlpool and will clash in a blockbuster quarter-final in Kazan on Friday.
The clash of the favourites Brazil and Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ have given the fans a reason to enjoy yet another heavyweight clash in a World Cup dominated by the underdogs and the exit of other contenders like Germany, Argentina, Spain or European Champions Portugal.
Five-time world champions Brazil will look to make their first World Cup final in 16 years when they take on the red-hot Belgians in Kazan.
The Selecao reached the World Cup quarterfinals for a seventh consecutive time after walking over Mexico in a brilliant 2-0 win in their last-16 match. Goals by Neymar and Roberto Firmino were enough to knockout a gritty and hardworking Mexico side.
Tite’s Brazil have had eight clean sheets in nine matches and will look to overcome the heart-crushing 7-1 defeat to Germany from the 2014 World Cup. One of the favourites for the golden trophy, Brazil have now remained unbeaten in 15 games (W11, D3) with just one goal conceded in the four games played till now in Russia.
Belgium’s road to the quarterfinals have been exceptionally strange. The Red Devils did what was expected of a strong side like them by thrashing minnows Panama and Tunisia by a combined scoreline of 8-2, but the final group stage match which was one of the best on the paper against England was a match featuring two B teams. Belgium’s win there have given them Brazil in their pool while England got Sweden.
In the last-16 tie, Belgium faced Japan and went 2-0 down during the course of the game. Following Takashi Inui’s dream strike in the 52nd minute, what was the second goal of the match by Japan, Belgium suddenly switched to their very best and the equalising goal was found by the 74th minute.
Japan suddenly looked clueless, but Belgium’s fightback was admirable and complete when Nacer Chadli finished off a brilliant team goal and Japan’s dream with the last kick of the game.
Belgium are on a 23-game unbeaten streak (W18, D5) as they became the first team to fight back from two goals down to win a World Cup knockout game in 48 years.
Roberto Martinez’s men have already notched up 12 goals in the tournament and their last six games have seen 19 goals and it will be their attacking talent and threat that will look to trump Brazil.
Players to watch: Neymar has been involved in 20 goals (11 goals, nine assists) in 19 matches. While, Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 19 goals (ten goals, nine assists) in 18 games.
Stat attack: Brazil have kept a clean sheet in eight of their last nine matches.
Brazil remain unbeaten in ten games against European opponents (W8, D2), conceding just three goals.
Belgium have never kept a clean sheet in 12 WC knockout matches, conceding 28 goals and are making successive World Cup quarter-final appearances for the first time.
The winner of Brazil vs Belgium will bid for a place in the final against the winner of France vs Uruguay.