Belgium beat Brazil 2-1 in the second quarter-final of the 2018 World Cup.
Despite the favoritism given to the Canarinha formation, it was the Belgians who overcame and went on to the semi-finals. “When you play Brazil, I think you need to get a tactical advantage. Against them, there’s a psychological barrier – the yellow tops, the five world titles and everything that goes with that. So we had to be brave tactically. It was a big gamble to change things and we needed the players to believe. And today is not really about the tactics – it’s about the execution of those tactics. There were a lot of threats to stop and Hazard and Lukaku gave us that with their positioning on the pitch. Today was about their mentality and I’m the proudest man on earth because I gave the players a very tough tactical assignment and the way they believed until the last second was incredible.” said Roberto Martinez, Belgium’s manager.
Kevin de Bruyne, who scored the second goal, said “We switched things up tactically and I think in the first half we played very well, creating a lot of opportunities. Brazil changed their tactics in the second half and were better [than us], but even then we created some chances. It was a test of character in the last 15 minutes and in the end we did enough to win the match. Now we face an extraordinary team in France but any time you reach the semi-finals of a World Cup, you know you’re not going to face weak opposition. We’re on an equal footing with them and we’ll be doing everything we can to win.”
With Brazil and Uruguay bidding farewell today, we are now guaranteed to have a European team holding the Trophy come the end. The last time we had an all-European semi-final line-up was in 2006 (Italy, France, Germany, Portugal).
Belgium will play against France next July 10 in St. Petersburg.