With champions Germany consigned to the World Cup scrapheap, the meeting between 2nd ranked Brazil and 3rd ranked Belgium is a mouth-watering prospect for football fans no matter who you are rooting for.
On paper there aren’t many better match-ups possible in the World Cup than this one. Each side is blessed with attacking flair, creativity in the middle of the park and a defense which is just porous enough to keep things interesting.
With so much talent on display on both sides one suspects that it is only a matter of time before both goalkeepers, Alisson for Brazil and Courtois for Belgium, are called into action.
Eden Hazard, Belgium’s captain and talisman, holds a skeleton key for practically every backline he faces while Neymar’s talent speaks for itself, though he does tend move in and out of games as referee decisions go for or against him.
Both sides will lead the line with contrasting forwards. On the Belgian side will be Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku, a handful for any defense in the world while Neymar, the often brilliant yes sometimes infuriating PSG player, will be Lukaku’s opposite, in more ways than one.
While ultimately displaying the type of resolve necessary to succeed in competitions like this, Belgium will be slightly unnerved by the manner of their performance against Japan in the round of 16, where they were two goals down in the second half before taking advantage of some Japanese carelessness to eek out three goals.
You suspect that the Brazil team will not be so hospitable. As for Tite’s men, they overcame Mexico 2-0 and, perhaps ominously, Neymar was central to everything both good and bad which came from the men in the yellow shirts.
Whoever comes out on top in this match in Kazan will likely be considered favorites to win the entire tournament and, as for who that is, we’ll know sometime late on Friday night.