With Brazil’s unrivalled attacking flair, they look dead certs too capture their sixth World Cup, but up next for them is a tricky encounter against a Belgium side that is stacked with world class talent that can more than match them, both offensively and defensively.
The Brazilian backline looks solid under the direction of their star defender Thiago Silva, with the side conceding just the once so far in the competition, in a disappointing 1-1 draw with Switzerland. It has been their forward line that has looked a little off par, needing two goals in stoppage time to beat Central American rivals Costa Rica, and it took until the 50th minute to open the scoring against Mexico.
Brazil star man Neymar has been at the forefront of attention for all the wrong reasons so far, with his play acting and unsportsmanlike behavior causing many to question his ethics and superstar status. It was however the PSG forward who the difference against Mexico, scoring the opener, and creating the chance for Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino to close the game out. Neymar is 5/2 with Paddy Power to be named Man of the Match.
Their opponents Belgium needed to come from two behind to beat Japan, a result which would have shocked the footballing world. They have their own superstars within a quality packed side, including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, who are more than capable of creating the openings needed to beat a highly fancied Brazil.
The Belgium defence is one of their key assets, and although they struggled to contain Japan, it will be a different style of game against Brazil. With the emphasis on concentration and structure, rather than being open and expansive potentially helping the side contain the attacking threat of Brazil. It could play into the European side’s hands and Belgium will look to soak up the pressure that is sure to come from Brazil and hit them on the break.
Although Hazard has failed to sparkle so far, the Chelsea man will relish the space left by an attacking Brazil. Eden Hazard is 9/1 with Boylesport to score the first goal of the game.
Crucial to Brazil’s game plan has been their midfield, with Paulinho and Casemiro sitting back and allowing their talented forwards to attack more freely, providing protection for an ageing center-back pairing of 33-year-olds Miranda and Silva.
Although all eyes have been on Neymar, it is the man who was signed to replace him at Barcelona that has impressed the most for the five times winners. Phillippe Coutinho, who plays a slightly deeper role with his national side, has been the side’s most influential member in attacking areas, and the former Liverpool man could use his premier league experience to help defeat a side that is packed with players from that league.
With his shooting from long distance and amazing dribbling skills, Coutinho could outclass his teammate Neymar in what could be tight and fractious affair, with many Belgian players familiar with his style of play, many will look to close him down, scared of his ability to shoot from any distance, which could allow him to use his creativity to either bring in other players or move into dangerous areas. Phillipe Coutinho to score at anytime is 21/10 at William Hill.
Roberto Martinez must have feared the worst as Japan took a two-goal lead, and many would have condemned the former Everton manager to ridicule had his side failed to turn the tie around. With such an amazingly talented squad, defeat would have been one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition.
They managed to pull it back, with Martinez finally allowing his flair players to throw off their shackles and attack with abandon, something that he will not be encouraging against a dangerous Brazil. With an attacking talent to match that off Brazil, they will look to soak up Brazil’s pressure and use the likes of Lukaku and Hazard in a swift counter attacking style, which will play to their strengths.
With Lukaku in hot pursuit of England’s Harry Kane for the Golden Boot, the Manchester United man will be anxious to ensure he can produce his best an enable Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ to finally realize their potential. For Romelu Lukaku to score two or more goals is 11/1 with Paddy Power.
HEAD TO HEAD
Belgium 5-1 Brazil (International Friendly) 24th April 1963
Brazil 5-0 Belgium (International Friendly) 2nd June 1965
Belgium 1-2 Brazil (International Friendly) 12th October 1988
Brazil 2-0 Belgium (FIFA World Cup) 17th June 2002
CURRENT MATCH ODDS (BEST PRICED ODDS)
Brazil: 11/10 - Visit Coral!
Draw: 5/2 - Visit Betfair!
Belgium: 11/4 - Visit Betfair!
With both sides closely matched, it looks like the game could go to extra time and even penalties. A host of superstars in all areas for the two sides, may just cancel each other out. However, it could take a magical moment from a player, which both sides have to unlock a game that looks too close to call. Expect the game to go the full distance, with the4 ultimate heartbreak for one of them.
MY RECOMMENDED BETS
- Under 5.5 corners in the game: 12/1 - Visit Unibet!
- A 2-2 draw: 16/1 - Visit Bet Victor!
- Belgium to win on penalties: 12/1 - Visit Coral!
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (23:30 4th July 2018) and are subject to change.