Head to head: Three critical battles to decide Belgium v Brazil

Three key battles between Belgium and Brazil.

Head to head: Three critical battles to decide Belgium v Brazil

By Liam Mackey

Philippe Coutinho v Kevin De Bruyne

Coutinho has been enjoying an eye-catching tournament for Brazil as their playmaker in chief and, already, the author of the one of the goals of the tournament with a trademark strike against Switzerland. De Bruyne has yet to match that consistent level of performance but, as he has shown so often for Manchester City – and again with his crucial contribution to Belgium’s winner against Japan – he has all the attributes to turn it on when it’s most needed.

Romelu Lukaku v Thiago Silva

Silva has hardly put a foot wrong in Russia at the heart of a superbly well-drilled Brazilian defence and his confrontation with Lukaku has a real ‘something-has-to-give’ look about it. Ditto for Silva’s defensive partner Miranda, especially if Roberto Martinez decides to utilise Marouane Fellaini.

Neymar v Everybody

Love him or loathe him, or more probably, feel a bit of both every time you see him play, but without question, Neymar is Brazil’s supreme talent and game-changer, the one who supplies the ‘wow’ as well as the ‘ow’. In theory, Thomas Meunier will be face to face with the superstar but, in truth, the Belgian wingback is likely to have much more reward exploiting Neymar’s disinclination to track back than in attempting to stop him doing whatever he wants going forward including, no doubt, baiting the court of popular opinion once again.

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