Belgium vs Brazil Preview

Brazil vs Belgium Preview
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Image from the Dail Mail
A huge battle will take place tomorrow in the Quarter Finals as the second highest ranking country in Neymar's Brazil takes on Eden Hazard's Belgium in the third ranked country (as of the 7th of June). Both teams have such attacking prowess that it should be a fantastic game to watch as both teams have pace and power on the counter and with both sides having erratic defenders, there could be many goals in this match. 

Tite, the Brazilian coach, has declared that Marcelo, who missed out on the Round of Sixteen game against Mexico, will return to the lineup in spite of Filipe Luis' good form in the tournament in the Real Madrid fullback's absence. Casemiro is suspended from the fixture after yellow cards in two consecutive games and so Tite has announced that Manchester City midfielder, Fernandinho will come into the side. Miranda will captain the side as the Selecao aim to advance past the Quarter Finals for the sixth time on their eighth attempt (being knocked out by France in 2006 and Holland in 2010). Belgium have faced Brazil four times previously and although the Red Devils won the first match in 1963, Brazil have won the other three matches, one of which was in 2002 which was a 2-0 victory for Brazil in which two second half goals from Rivaldo and Ronaldo took Brazil to the Quarter Finals and to progress to winning the World Cup. 

BRAZIL PREDICTED LINEUP:
GOALKEEPER: Alisson Becker
Alisson has been one of the best goalkeepers at this tournament and has kept three clean sheets out of the four games at this World Cup. 

DEFENDERS: Fagner Lemos, Joao Miranda, Thiago Silva, Marcelo
Marcelo is fit to start and will replace Filipe Luis against Belgium. The rest of the back four should stay the same as they performed admirably against Mexico and will have to be at their best against the likes of Lukaku, Hazard and De Bruyne. 

MIDFIELD THREE: Fernandinho, Paulinho, Philippe Coutinho
Fernandinho has been tipped to sub in for the suspended Casemiro but the rest of the midfield three should stay the same as Paulinho his a good box to box midfielder that compliments Coutinho's more attacking play and allows him to stay in a more advanced position. 

FORWARD THREE: Willian, Neymar Jr, Gabriel Jesus
Willian has been decent for Brazil with his team play and unselfish decision-making and so should stay in the lineup with Douglas Costa's injury. Neymar has that 'wow factor' that gives him the ability to change a game like Ronaldo and Messi, he just needs the chances. Jesus has struggled to make an impact at this World Cup and has only registered one assist. Firmino on the other hand, came on against Mexio and scored within two minutes of his arrival, he has had a sensational season for Liverpool and scored 27 goals in all competitions but has been restricted to just under an hour of World Cup football. However, the former is more likely to start than the latter as Tite seems to favour the Man City striker and will hope that he will break his four game drought against Belgium and regain his confidence from it.

Image from Buildlineup.com
BELGIUM PREDICTED LINEUP:
GOALKEEPER: Thibaut Courtois
He may have angered many English fans with his comments about Jordan Pickford, but he is still a world class goalkeeper and could be crucial for Belgium's progression in this World Cup. 

BACK THREE: Toby Alderwiereld, Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen
All three are fantastic defenders that are experienced internationally and will have to muster all that experience to take care of the Brazilian firepower upfront. 

MIDFIELDERS: Thomas Meunier, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco
Personally, I disagree with the formation that Roberto Martinez sets out for Belgium, it has a limiting factor for De Bruyne who cannot get into a more advanced position as he cannot allow Witsel to hold the midfield by himself and thus his performances offensively, have suffered. Moussa Dembele could come in and Mertens could be sacrificed for De Bruyne's sake but it is doubtful as to whether the former Evertonian manager will change up his squad. Meunier ansd Carrasco bomb up and down the pitch as wingbacks and have been decent at the World Cup so should stay in the XI. 

FORWARD THREE: Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard (c), Romelu Lukaku
Mertens has not really kicked on since his stunning goal against Panama, but his good form for Napoli and international experience should keep him in the squad. The skipper has been part of 19 goals since Martinez was appointed, scoring 10 and assisting nine others and is a guaranteed starter that should cause trouble for the replacement right-back of Fagner. Lukaku is Belgium's top goalscorer at the World Cup with four goals in three games, a tally only bested by Harry Kane with six goals. The Manchester United striker is a handful for most defenders and his 'target-man' play is improving everyday. 

Image from Buildlineup.com
This could easily be another 4-3 game in this World Cup with both teams having world class attacking players but Belgium still look a nervous side after a narrow escape from being knocked out by Japan and struggled to really get into the game until Fellaini came on. Brazil's results may not show their playing ability but definitely show their hard grit and iron resolve that could take them far in this tournament and with the likes of Argentina, Spain, Germany and Portugal already out of the tournament, they will hope to win it outright.

PREDICTED SCORE: 3-2 to Brazil

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