In a surprising, but ultimately deserved, result Brazil have been knocked out of the World Cup by an outstanding Belgian performance. Belgium, behind a golden generation of players, punched Brazil in the mouth early on and from their held on to reach their first World Cup Semifinal.
Outstanding Belgian Performance Downs Samba Boys
The First Half
In what came as shock to almost everyone watching Friday’s quarterfinal between Belgium and Brazil was a first-half blowout. Brazil got outplayed at almost every position on the field. Giving up wide open spaces and allowing Belgium to cut them open.
A game we expect to be an open affair turned out to be so. Both teams had a ton of chances to score and early on it looked like Brazil might be the ones to do so. Thiago Silva had a cross come in off his knee that would have given his side a 1-0 lead. That was their best chance and may have been their only chance at victory.
Less than a few minutes after that miss Brazil was down 1-0 thanks to a great ball in from Kevin De Bruyne that went off of Fernandinho’s elbow and into the net. And from there a pattern formed. Brazil would try and dominate possession, moving closer and closer to Belgium’s net. But as they did that they opened up their backend to the deadly Belgian counterattack.
After a few attacks failed to complete their goal, Belgium got what they deserved. Lukaku received the ball in his own third and dribbled his way through the middle of the field. He found Kevin De Bruyne near the edge of the box, and De Bruyne did the rest. He uncorked a rocket into the bottom left corner, 2-0, and Brazil were in major trouble.
The Second Half
Brazil brought Firmino on for Willian at halftime to try and change things up. And to start the second half it was working. They had all kinds of chances to score, balls in wide from Marcelo and Gabriel Jesus were just touched away. Courtois only had to make one big save in that first 20 minutes.
But it was not over. Brazil made two more subs bringing on Douglas Costa & Renato Augusto. They were rewarded for it when Augusto got on the end of Philippe Coutinho chip and finished it into the bottom corner, 2-1. And that’s when the real siege began. Brazil, emboldened by their goal, began coming at the Belgian defence in waves.
Chance after chance came Brazil’s way. Firmino hit one over the bar, Courtois saved a shot from Douglas Costa, and Augusto barely missed an open shot. Coutinho got open on an outstanding counter and somehow missed by a mile. With each passing shot, it was beginning to feel like there wasn’t another coming for the Brazilians.
But there was nothing that they could do. Belgium were the better side from start to finish and got the victory they deserved. On the backs of a golden generation, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, came up massive. Courtois saved nine shots coming up absolutely massive when Belgium needed him.
De Bruyne & Hazard, along with Romelu Lukaku put massive pressure on the Brazilian defence all night. The contribution by those four, again the faces of Belgium’s greatest footballing generation, should not be overlooked. We’ve been waiting to see how good they could be, now their in a World Cup Semifinal.
What Comes Next
As for Brazil, they go home failing to really impress at all in five games in Russia. Neymar somehow managed to even further his already warranted reputation as a diver. Brazil will have to lick their wounds and try again. They still have the talent to win the World Cup, but they need to execute much better to do so.
So the night belongs to the Belgians and now so does a place in the semi-final, where they will meet France. A penny for Belgian assistant coach Thierry Henry’s thoughts about that.
They will have to try and replicate their performance tonight, unless France change something dramatic the game could look a lot like this one. But before that game celebrations are in order due to the outstanding Belgian performance. Belgium reaching their first World Cup semifinal is nothing to sneeze at.
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