Belgium emerged victorious against Japan in the most thrilling half of the World Cup. 5 goals in the 2nd half, capped off by a last kick of the match, 12-second counter attack with a textbook dummy from Romelu Lukaku to free up Nacer Chadli for the game winning goal. Marouane Fellaini is an agent of chaos for the Belgians. His introduction in the 65th minute completely changed the complexion of Belgium's attack as they transitioned to a more aerial attack. This perfectly Illustrated the versatility in the Belgian tactics: they can play a finesse game highlighted by Kevin De Bruyne's deft passing in the middle and Eden Hazard's darting runs on the wing. Or they can play a bruising style with long balls and cross and simply out leap and out muscle the opposition. The stats show that Belgium outworked Japan, owning 57% of possession, outshooting them 21-10 and winning 10 corner kicks.
Neymar's antics have been tiresome to watch. It is questionable whether he is actually in serious distress when gets fouled and automatically goes to ground clutching his ankle/knee/shoulder/face . However, the numbers are without question: he is producing. Neymar leads the entire tournament in chances created with 16 and shots on target with 12. Brazil will be without their top holding midfielder in Casemiro who was booked versus Mexico. However, Fernandinho should be able to offer some relief in the midfield. Marcelo is a questionable to play, still nursing a thigh injury obtained in the final group stage match versus Serbia.
Historically Belgium have never defeated a South American Team at the World Cup and Brazil have not defeated a European team in the knockout phase since 2002. Something will have to give on Friday.
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