Brazil vs Belgium preview, betting tips and prediction
Belgium to qualify @ 8/5 with Betfair
The most complete Brazil side that we’ve seen since 2002 weathered an early Mexico storm (a mild storm) to assert their dominance and come out with a rather comfortable victory in the end. Neymar was the orchestrator of the win but plaudits were begrudgingly given because of the PSG striker’s deplorable sportsmanship. At least referees aren’t really falling for his antics. One wonders if it will come back to bite him from a referee with a zero-tolerance policy on simulation and the inevitable dissent that would follow the brandishing of a yellow card. It’s a distraction that Brazil don’t need. They’re good enough to win without Neymar’s childish cheating and he’s certainly good enough to play without resorting to such means. It’s a part of his game that we shouldn’t expect him to drop mid-tournament. As well as being stacked up front, Brazil are almost impenetrable at the back, boasting an embarrassment of riches with the likes of Ederson and Marquinhos on the bench. Expect Belgium to use their Plan B at some point in this match.
Plan B worked for Belgium against Japan. The Blue Samurai caught out the heavy favourites for the last 16 tie by racing into a two-goal lead after half-time. Changes from Roberto Martinez saw the average height of the Belgium team go up and his side began to play with an emphasis on aerial balls. Jan Vertonghen scored a long-range header before Marouane Fellaini towered over his opponents to get the equaliser. Even the equaliser came from an aerial ball, as Keisuke Honda will be reminded of for the rest of his playing days. Are Belgium too mentally fragile to topple a giant like Brazil? Japan scaring them would suggest so but the manner of their comeback could be used as evidence of their mental strength. Either way, expect there to be goals in what should be a cracker of a match.
Tite may consider dropping Gabriel Jesus after the young forward failed to make any impact once again during the win over Mexico. Roberto Firmino could start in place of him. He came off the bench late on and scored with one of his first touches. The only question mark in that Brazil defence hovers over Fagner. The Corinthians right-back looks like he has a mistake in him. The loss of Casemiro, who protects the defence expertly, is big.
Roberto Martinez has set up his side with three at the back and two wing-backs thus far but could change to handle an opponent of Brazil’s quality. Then again, Martinez, renowned for being defensively suspect, could roll the dice and decide that it’s worth the risk. He would have been pleased to see De Bruyne start the counter-attack for the winner against Japan. The Man City star was having a quiet enough game up until that point. It shows that there are match-winners all over the Belgium team.
Marcelo could be brought in for Filipe Luis if he’s fit enough. Douglas Costa could be ready and would vie with a place for Willian if he is. Casemiro is suspended.
Belgium have a fully-fit squad for this game.