- #WorldCupAtHome brings you thrilling Brazil v Belgium clash
- Kazan Arena hosted the Russia 2018 quarter-final
- Thrilling encounter took place two years ago today
In an exciting quarter-final at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, Belgium managed to upset a star-studded Brazil 2-1 to follow in the footsteps of the Red Devils side that made the last four at Mexico 1986. Brazil, for their part, suffered another bitter loss and were unable to prevent an all-European semi-final line-up.
Brazil 1-2 Belgium
6 July 2018 | Kazan Arena, Kazan
Goalscorers: Belgium: Fernandinho (OG, 13′), De Bruyne (31′); Brazil: R. Augusto (76′)
Brazil: Alisson, Thiago Silva, Miranda (c), Marcelo, Fagner, Coutinho, Paulinho (Augusto 73’), Fernandinho, Willian (Firmino 45’), Gabriel Jesus (Douglas Costa 58’), Neymar
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Meunier, Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli (Thomas Vermaelen 83’), Romelu Lukaku (Youri Tielemans 87’), Eden Hazard (c)
Self-belief: Belgium went into the game with the one thing considered essential when facing Brazil or any other world champion: self-belief. The Red Devils showed supreme confidence in launching wave after wave of early attacks to score twice in the space of 18 first-half minutes. The first came from a corner that Kompany flicked on to Fernandinho’s shoulder and past Alisson from close range, while the second saw De Bruyne drill a sumptuous right-footed shot inside the left post from the edge of the box.
Brazil’s mistakes: In a knockout game, one mistake can often be fatal, let alone two or more. Despite being forewarned by Belgium’s 12 goals in their previous four games, A Seleção were seemingly incapable of dealing with the Red Devils’ movement and pace. Kompany was left unmarked for the corner that produced the opener, while De Bruyne had space to run into and no one closing him down for the second. Those two goals were enough to send the five-time champions home from Russia 2018.
Tactical mastery: Martinez made sure his players had their tactics well prepared for the showdown, enabling them to exploit Brazil’s weaknesses from set-pieces and counter-attacks. After taking the lead, the European side controlled the rest of the first half and created further chances. After the break, they managed to disrupt Brazil’s game-plan and rely on breaks, which could have yielded even more goals.
While a fantastic collective performance makes it difficult to single out just one Belgian player, Courtois was in inspired form from start to finish. The eventual adidas Golden Glove winner saved nine attempts by the Brazilians and, were it not for that close range header by the unmarked Augusto, Courtois would have emerged with a clean sheet from one of his best performances at the tournament.
What they said
“We played a perfect first half; we scored twice and could’ve had more. Brazil improved in the second and we had to be confident and resolute in defence. I’m happy with my performance and with the goal I scored, which came as a result of our lightning counter-attack and Lukaku and Hazard managing to switch positions and create space.”
Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium midfielder
“When you play a side like Brazil, you face a huge psychological barrier. The yellow jersey and the five titles can undermine the confidence of any team, but our players believed in themselves, took risks and were able to deal with the game as it unfolded. I’m very proud of what they did today, particularly after Brazil cut the deficit. Everything could’ve changed but we maintained our focus and won the game.”
Roberto Martinez, Belgium coach
What happened next
For the first time since Mexico 1986, Belgium made the last four, where they lost 1-0 to France. However, the Red Devils did go home with a first World Cup podium appearance after beating England 2-0 in the play-off for third place. Moreover, they finished Russia 2018 as the top-scoring team with 16 goals.