Brazil 1-2 Belgium: Another favourite dumped out as Martinez's tactics are spot on

Brazil 1-2 Belgium: Another favourite dumped out as Martinez's tactics are spot on

Belgium came up with a team performance of the highest standard to knock out pre-tournament favourites Brazil

lewissteele
Lewis Steele
BrazilBecker; Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Fernandinho, Paulinho (Renato Augusto, min. 76), Coutinho; Willian (Firmino, min. 45), Jesus (Douglas Costa, min. 58), Neymar.
Belgium Courtois; Meunier, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Chadli (Vermaelen, min. 83); Fellaini, Witsel; De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku (Tielemans, min. 87).
SCORE0-1, min. 13. Fernandinho OG. 0-2, min. 31, De Bruyne. 1-2, min. 76, Renato Augusto
REFEREEMilorad Mazic

The bookies favourites before a ball was kicked, Brazil, were dumped out of the World Cup by a Belgium side who answered many of the questions that were asked of them heading into the tournament with a memorable team performance. 

Fernandinho deflected the ball into his own goal before a thunderous strike from Kevin De Bruyne saw The Red Devils to a two goal cushion at half time.

A late strike from Renato Augusto was not enough for Brazil, who become the third previous World Cup winner to be knocked out at The Kazan Arena, following Argentina and Germany. 

Devastating Belgian first half

Although Belgium were by far the better team over the course of the game, Brazil enjoyed decent control throughout many phases, especially the beginning. 

In the sixth minute, Thiago Silva failed to connect well with a cross at the front post and fluffed a massive chance for the Brazilians. When the ball was played in, it looked certain the PSG man would score from a similar position to his goal against Serbia. 

From not taking their chances from their own corner, to being incredibly unlucky defending one - at the other end, Belgium were helped into the lead.

The corner was drifted in to the front post which Vincent Kompany attacked. The Manchester City defender failed to get enough on the ball but did enough to put off his club colleagues Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho. The latter ultimately inadvertently turned the ball into his own goal to give Belgium a precious lead in a game they entered as the underdog.

The Red Devils added to their joys on the half hour mark, when De Bruyne hit a bullet of an effort past Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker

​Romelu Lukaku, who was excellent all night on and off the ball, started the move. He sprinted down the middle of the pitch following a neat turn, before slipping in De Bruyne. Thomas Meunier made a decoy run off the ball which distracted the defender, but in reality there was only one thing on De Bruyne's mind - shoot. 

If you are a fan of the Premier League, you will be well aware that Kevin De Bruyne is more than competent of striking a ball from this area. That is exactly what the Belgian man did. He took a touch, before striking the ball into the back of the net. The ball hardly moved due to the shear power, neither did Alisson.

Roberto Martinez made a tactical switch heading into this one to move De Bruyne into a more advanced role, relieving him of his defensive duties by bringing Marouane Fellaini into the lineup on the back of a good substitute showing against Japan. The decision proved to be a masterstroke, as De Bruyne ran the show from start to finish, as he did so often in Manchester City's 17/18 title win.

From the second goal, Belgium saw out the first half in style, with Brazil looking bereft of ideas, unable to lay a punch on their opponents. 

Martinez's men show they are more than an attacking force

Heading into the World Cup, questions were being asked of Belgium. Yes, they have some of the best attacking talents in the world in De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku. Yes, they have some brilliant defenders. But, can they play together as a unit? 

These questions were answered in style in the second half. 

Belgium have always possessed attacking quality in abundance, but now they have shown they have the ability to defend and see out matches too - a frightening feat for other World Cup challengers. 

Brazil did pull one back late in the day via a great Renato Augusto goal assisted by a deft Coutinho dink, but Belgium looked a steely side that would not give up.

Much of that was thanks to the experienced trio of Kompany, Alderweireld and Vertonghen. 

With minutes remaining, Courtois denied Neymar with a stretching save to deny the worlds most expensive player from the edge of the box. 

Brazil certainly threw questions at the Belgian defence, but Martinez's side answered all of them.

As the final whistle blew, Brazil players fell to the ground. The squad that was meant to be the favourites looked mentally defeated, evidently still psychologically scarred from that 7-1 defeat in Belo Horizonte four years ago. Marcelo, Thiago Silva and Neymar, three of the core group of this side, closed their eyes as if they could not believe it has happened again.

Make no mistake about it, Brazil were not poor, Belgium were just too good. Vincent Kompany gathered his players into a tightly knit circle and issued his battle cry. It felt like a coming of age for Belgium, who celebrated like they won the whole thing.

Next up for Belgium is France on Tuesday in St Petersburg. After that performance, they will believe. Rightly so, this little country believe they can go all the way. 

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