Peter Schmeichel has heaped praise on Belgium’s towering midfielder Marouane Fellaini following their 2-1 World Cup quarter-final win over Brazil, but criticized Neymar for his lack of impact in the match.
RT special World Cup host Schmeichel claimed it was no surprise Belgium had beaten Brazil due to their quality throughout the squad, but that Brazil were “unlucky” to concede a Fernandinho own goal that opened the scoring.
“The squad they have, the players they have available it’s no surprise, no one can be surprised about this. Brazil played better today than I’ve seen them in the whole tournament, but ironically they go out on that performance.”
“I thought defensively they were very unlucky on the first goal it’s just got a little flick off Kompany which the hits the arm of Fernandinho and goes in and it’s what happens in football and they didn’t recovery from that and the they find themselves two-nil down at half time."
Brazil made three second-half changes which saw Roberto Firmino, Douglas Costa and Renato Augusto enter the field of play. Schmeichel complimented the substitutions from Brazil coach Tite, especially as Augusto managed to pull one back for the side after Kevin De Bruyne doubled Belgium’s lead.
However, the former Denmark and Manchester United stopper admitted that although the tournament was “saying goodbye to one of the better sides,” he expressed his disappointment in Neymar’s performance.
Schmeichel has previously referred to Neymar as Brazil’s “problem child” and again singled out the 26-year-old, who exited the tournament scoring just two goals in four games, for criticism yet again, claiming he was overshadowed by Man United man Fellaini.
“We looked to Neymar to say this is your opportunity to show how good you are. We had little sniffs. We had a situation where he gets the ball on the left hand side, he passes it inside the box to Firmino, Firmino has a shot, it goes just over and Neymar also had a shot in 90 minutes plus three which Thibaut Courtois tips over fantastically, but other than that, he was not the dominating figure in this team tonight,” Schmeichel said, before going on to praise the construction and setup of the Belgian side, in particular Fellaini.
“Fellaini for me today was incredible. He’s big, awkward, he can run, a lot of people, they look at Fellaini and they see something different or someone they can’t believe that he’s like that, but technically he’s very good. He came on the other day and changed the game, Chadli did that today.”
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side now go on to face France, who beat Uruguay 2-0 in Nizhny Novgorod, in the first semi-final game in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The victory means only European teams remain in the 2018 World Cup.