Brazil tipped to edge out Belgium in crunch quarter-final clashby Jack Kitson / 06 July 2018, 14:43Tweet
Brazil and Belgium clash for the first time in 16 years as they go head-to-head in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
Brazil, the 11/4 favourites for golden cup glory, swatted away the challenge of Mexico in the previous round as the five-time champions extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches to book their place in the quarter-finals for the seventh tournament in succession.
Neymar was Brazil’s man of the match during the 2-0 win over Mexico - despite that shocking roll - and he’ll have the chance to add to his two goal tally against a Belgium defence which has been breached five times this tournament. The striker, who has been involved in 20 goals in his last 19 games games for his country, is the 4/1 favourite to open the scoring at the Kazan Arena.
Belgium, 6/1 to win the World Cup for the first time, conjured up a dramatic fightback against Japan in the previous round, coming from two goals down to win a thriller 3-2, with Nacer Chadli slotting home in the 94th minute following a rapid counter-attack from a Japan corner.
Belgium’s defence may have been wobbly at times, but Martinez’s troops are the tournament’s top-goalscorers with 12 goals in five games. Romelu Lukaku is joint-second in the charts with four goals in three games and the Man Utd star can be found at 21/10 to score against Belgium, while his skipper Eden Hazard is a 5/2 shot.
However, Belgium come up against a Brazilian side that has only conceded one goal so far. In fact, they’ve kept 19 shutouts and recorded 20 wins in 25 matches under boss Tite, who said in his press conference:
“The biggest challenge of a World Cup is fortitude. The pressure is immense, extraordinary.
"It will be a great match. Both teams excel with a beautiful football. Belgium have great players and a great coach as well.
"I've always put them in the group of favourites.”
Brazil are undefeated in 15 matches while Belgium are now 23 games unbeaten. Friday’s clash will be the fifth game between these sides, with the only previous World Cup meeting back in 2002 when Brazil triumphed 2-0 in the last-16, before going on to lift the trophy. In fact The Red Devils’ last two World Cup campaigns have ended in defeat to a South American side (Argentina, 2014).
Brazil may be the favourites but Belgium boss Martinez, who are on a six game winning run, says his troops are raring to go:
“There is something special in this squad, no doubt about it.
“The signs are positive and of a real desire to be on the football pitch.
"We can't wait. I feel we are as ready as we can be. Over the last two years we have been working towards this moment.”
Prediction: Brazil 2-1 Belgium