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Belgium hold off Brazil fightback to reach semi-finals

10 July 2018

And despite Brazil's finish in the 2018 World Cup falling well-short of expectations, the manager admitted he still appreciated what was, according to many, the match of the tournament so far.

As Brazil become the last south American country to exit the tournament before the semi-finals, Roberto Martinez's Belgium ended a 32-year wait to reach the final four.

"You have to prepare yourself especially against the Brazil national team, and a leader like Kompany has to show confidence to his team mates, like the more experienced players have to show confidence in our actions to our team mates".

There is guaranteed to be a fourth straight European team winning the World Cup on July 15 in Moscow.

"So we had to be fearless tactically. They have a lot of top players and finished well". "Brazil are an incredible team, but there is not one day I go to bed thinking 'What if we lose?'"

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Martinez switched from his favoured 3-4-2-1 set-up to a 4-3-3 in Kazan and it paid off, as Brazil struggled to cope with the Red Devils during the first half.

"I don't care where I play". "When you say we play in a certain way, as a player you need to courageous to accept it". Making sure we relax on the ball and not take too many risks.

Brazil fans will hope Fernandinho can continue the hard work and have the last laugh over his City team mates to boost his team's hopes of a record-extending sixth World Cup.

Brazil could have scored twice in the first few minutes as Thiago Silva bundled the ball awkwardly against the post from a corner and Paulinho mishit a shot from close range.

For the match against Brazil, Roberto Martinez opted to switch his tactics by playing Lukaku on the right side of his attack, Hazard on the opposite flank, while De Bruyne operated as a false nine thorough the middle.

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In the end, it proved decisive.

This was no repeat of Belo Horizonte four years ago, when Brazil were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals on home soil, and Tite's side kept their shape and composure despite trailing by two goals.

Belgium needed a stoppage-time Chadli victor against Japan just to secure that fixture against the Brazilians but the West Brom midfielder insists that the 2-1 victory over Neymar and Co has boosted their confidence.

"It used to be in Belgian culture, and I think everyone would agree with me, we would feel defeated even before a game like this", he told the press before the game.

"This only happens once or twice in your career as a footballer".

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Belgium hold off Brazil fightback to reach semi-finals