In dramatic fashion Belgium have managed to beat Brazil 2-1 and are through to the semi-finals! Roberto Martinez’s squad fought hard against a shady Brazil, with Casemiro’s absence proven critical for the overall balance of Tite’s team.
Brazil missed the first big chance of the game when, after an excellent corner delivery from Neymar, Miranda beat Alderweireld and Fellaini in the air. However Thiago Silva from close distance managed to hit the post.
Some minutes later it was Belgium’s turn to threaten from a corner. Chadli delivered an excellent cross to Kompany’s head who easily beat Fernandinho(!) in the air. The ball found the back of the net after deflecting off Fernandinho’s elbow.
Brazil found it difficult to circulate the ball in dangerous areas and lacked one of the critical points that allowed them to progress that far in the tournament: Efficient defensive transition. Casemiro proves to be irreplaceable, as Brazil had major problems in their build-up play without him & at the same time lacked the safety that the 26 year old provides when they lose possession.
In one such instance, it was Lukaku who retrieved the ball in Belgium’s own half storming himself on the counter, with Fernandinho not able to stop him. Lukaku spread the ball to De Bruyne who guided the ball at the back of the net with a screamer.
Renato Augusto replaced Paulinho on the 73′ and three minutes later he found the back of the net with an excellent header after Coutinho’s astounding delivery.
In stoppage time Thibaut Courtois showed his class literally flying to deny Neymar.
“I think I have been unfairly criticised a lot of times this year. OK, maybe sometimes I could have saved more but the amount of things I got I don’t think was always fair. I think today I proved why I am here and I am happy with that” the Chelsea goalkeeper said after the match.
“It is the execution of the tactics that matters. The execution was magnificent. I couldn’t be prouder” said Belgium manager Roberto Martinez. “They were incredible – incredible hearts out there. You have to accept Brazil have this finesse, this quality and they are going to break you down. But they didn’t accept that. I didn’t think for one minute they were going to give up. This is something special. These boys deserve to be really special people back in Belgium. I hope everyone in Belgium is very, very proud.”
“It was a great game with two teams of incredible technical qualities. With all the pain I feel, it is difficult to come to talk to you, but if you like football you have to watch this game. We had a lot of the game, more possession and created chances. In terms of effectiveness we didn’t translate that into goals. They did.” Brazil manager Tite concluded.