Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Sports | By Sarah Myers

The incredible Brazil defensive record that will terrify Belgium

The incredible Brazil defensive record that will terrify Belgium

Over the course of history Brazil have played just one game fewer than Germany in World Cup finals football and yet have conceded 22 fewer goals, while only Italy have a better goals-per-game defensive average.

Neymar signalled he had well and truly put a recent injury lay-off behind him with an incisive performance in a 2-0 win over Mexico in Samara, where he scored the opener and set up Roberto Firmino for his maiden World Cup goal.

Marcelo missed the Round of 16 but is expected to return in place of Felipe Luis to face Belgium.

"The fact that the game against Brazil is defining for our generation is for sure, though".

As has been the case throughout this World Cup, Brazilian forward Neymar will likely garner much of the attention during the match, both for his skills and speed as well as his on-field theatrics.

Ahead of the match, Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku defended Neymar, with the Brazilian being accused of diving in Russian Federation.

"Neymar, play like you always played and do not worry about comments from other countries, because many are already at home", Rivaldo wrote on his official Instagram page.

Although Brazil are favourites to win the World Cup, Belgium are formidable opponents and there are reasons to believe they could spring a surprise in Kazan.

Yet it was not just his remarkable abilities and exploits in front of goal which caught the eye - the world's most expensive player also came in for staunch criticism from Mexico players and coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who accused of Neymar "acting" in an attempt to get refereeing decisions. It's not like we've been failing up to now but there is a level above, which we need to achieve, which can be done by a game like the one we are playing against Brazil.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez (right) talks with his star midfielder Kevin de Bruyne. They have only gone out twice at this stage in that run (against France in 2006 and Netherlands in 2010). This is where Fernandinho will be crucial for Brazil.

The Manchester City midfielder has yet to start a game in Russian Federation but will replace Casemiro - who misses out through suspension - and is likely to be joined in the starting XI by club-mate Gabriel Jesus, despite the fact the forward has yet to score in the finals. I told him recently that he must thank God for the talent he has been given.

Martinez saw his side rally from the brink of elimination to snatch a last-gasp 3-2 win over Japan in the Round of 16 on Monday, booking a meeting with the five-time World Cup winners. That's a tough one to answer, but Brazil are certainly the better collective.

They will look to exploit a Belgium defence that has let through four goals and has a trio of big centre backs that may be exposed for pace by the nippy Neymar, Willian and Philippe Coutinho. Brazil should thus, have enough to triumph by the odd goal on Friday.

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