This is the tastiest of all the quarter-final games where the very best stars go head-to-head. Brazil have grown in every game they have played so far in the tourney, and they also possess a mean defence – something quite synonymous to Brazil under Tite. Brazil have conceded only five shots on target in the four games they have played in the tournament. Yes, people might say they are so good in attack and they keep their opposition too occupied defending – that isn’t entirely the case. By watching them play you will see the way the team closes down openings, change defensive shape with flexibility – it only can be achieved through great coaching. Tite knows what he is doing and with Philippe Coutinho in the lineup they have a real chance to rise above everyone else. Neymar is finally coming to the party but Coutinho in my opinion is the real danger man.
Belgium survived a Japanese scare in their round of 16 tie and showed great character for the comeback win over Japan. The team still looks disjointed in my opinion and seems like roles are not well known or well coached. I am sceptical about the formation and the quality of Roberto Martinez. I still do feel their group gave them a false sense of security in their ability and it will cost them the tournament.
However, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne are certainly capable of magic, but I will tip Brazil to win this 2-0 – Neymar and Coutinho to be in socring charts.
- This will be the fifth game between these sides. The first encounter was a friendly in Brussels in 1963 which Belgium won 5-1 but Brazil have won the subsequent three meetings.
- Their only previous World Cup encounter was in the round of 16 in 2002. Brazil won 2-0 through second-half goals from Rivaldo and Ronaldo and went on to win the tournament.
- Brazil have reached the quarter-finals for the seventh consecutive World Cup. They have only lost twice at this stage during this sequence – against France in 2006 and the Netherlands in 2010.
- The Selecao’s last six World Cup defeats have all come against sides from Europe.
- Their last win against European opposition in the knockout stage was the 2002 final versus Germany.
- They are unbeaten in their last 15 games in all comps (W11, D4), conceding just three goals.
- The Brazilians have won 20 of 25 games (D4, L1) under head coach Tite, keeping 19 clean sheets.
- They have recorded shut-outs in eight of their last nine games (W7, D2).
- Neymar has been involved in 20 goals in his last 19 matches for Brazil, scoring 11 and assisting nine.
- Belgium’s last two World Cup campaigns ended with elimination against South American opposition (versus Brazil in 2002 and Argentina in 2014).
- Victory would see them reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1986, and only the second time overall.
- They have already scored 12 goals – their joint most at a World Cup, along with 1986.
- Roberto Martinez’s side are unbeaten in their last 23 matches (W18, D5), the longest current run of any team left in the tournament.
- Belgium have failed to score a first-half goal in nine of their last 10 World Cup games.
- Victory would see Belgium win five successive World Cup matches for the first time. They have won eight of their last nine matches at the tournament.
- Belgium hold the record for most World Cup knockout games played (12) without keeping a clean sheet. They have conceded 28 goals in those 12 matches.
- Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 19 goals in his 18 games for Belgium under Roberto Martinez, scoring 10 and assisting nine.
- Romelu Lukaku has scored with four of his five shots on target at this tournament.