Friday, September 17, 2021

Brazil 1-2 Belgium | Belgium Ease Into World Cup Semis

Belgium produced a stunning display to oust Brazil from the World Cup. An own-goal from Fernandinho and a strike from De Bruyne were enough to see them home. Despite dominating the second half, and having a few penalty shouts, Brazil could only manage an Augusto goal in the second half. It will be a bitter pill to swallow for Brazil.

Belgium made two changes to the starting lineup that faced Japan. Fellaini and Chadli coming in for the uninspiring Carrasco and Mertens. Marcelo returned in place of Filipe Luis, and Fernandinho came in for the suspended Casemiro.

 

First Half

Brazil started the brighter of the two, creating their first chance from a corner. Flicked on by Miranda at the near post, Thiago Silva seemed destined to score from 2 yards out. But his shot ballooned up and off the cross-bar. Brazil were on top for much of the opening 15 minutes, but it was Belgium who would get the breakthrough from a corner of their own. The inswinging corner was flicked on by Kompany and flew into the net off the arm of Fernandinho.

Still Brazil looked menancing although the goal had settled Belgiums defence down after a shaky start. It was to be more Brazil pressure that was their undoing again. A swift break from a Brazil corner allowed Lukaku to show his strength and pace as he held the ball up, turned and drove at the Brazil back-line. He fed the ball beautifully to De Bruyne who arrowed the ball inside the far post from 18 yards.

Brazil continued to show menace going forward, and produce two fine saves from Thibault Courtois in quick succession before the break. But there were no clear-cut chances for Brazil as Belgium successfully kept them at arms length after that shaky start to the game.

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku

Second Half

Brazil came out to dominate the second half and that was exactly the way it panned out. Belgium dropped deeper and deeper as they looked to defend their 2 goal advantage. Brazil looked to make their early play pay, but as Neymar received the ball in the box he took an outrageous dive. It was the most blatant of the World Cup so far, and with the media that had surrounded him after his antics in the last sixteen, it was disappointing. He is clearly one of the best players in the world and this can do nothing but tarnish his image,  especially in the age of VAR.

Brazil continued to dominate the ball, but it wasn’t until Coutinho found Augusto with an amazing lofted pass that Brazil were finally on the board. Coutinho’s magic ball was headed home from 10 yards by Augusto and the frantic finish was on.

In truth, there weren’t a lot of golden chances for Brazil after that. Belgium were disciplined and looked very dangerous on the break through Lukaku and Hazard. There was one final chance in the dying minutes of stoppage time as Neymar tried a shot from 30 yards that Courtois kept out with a worldy. It was a stunning save, fit to win any match.

What We Learned about Belgium

Belgium are for real and seem to have found the team spirit that so many have said is missing from their game. Their work-rate was impressive and their pace on the counter would scare the daylights out of any team. Lukaku worked tirelessly for his team, and was immense in the first half. Hazard took over the mantle in the second half, leading the Brazil defence a merry dance as Belgium wound down the clock.

As for Brazil they seem to lack any kind of plan B. If they can’t pass their way through you they don’t know what to try. The diving and rolling antics of Neymar will, sadly, be what they are most remembered for from this World Cup.

Belgium will face France in the semi-final on Tuesday 10th July.

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray writes on the NFL, Premier League, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NRL.

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