With the exit of Brazil and Uruguay on the same day, the World Cup has now turned into an Euro Cup with all teams left in the fray are from Europe only. This is not any more a surprise because, irrespective of what the football managers and coaches say, all the Latin American countries have adopted European style of football – whether it’s Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay – it doesn’t matter. Otherwise, why you will see Brazil playing not only in 4-3-3 system, but also with blocking midfielders like Fernandinho? Yet, the blind supporters can’t see this and still shouts “samba football” all the time! If this is samba football, then it’s an insult to the football played by Zico, Socrates, etc last time in 1986 world cup!
Now, let me share my take of the quarterfinals match between Brazil vs Belgium:
- While the formations of Belgium and Brazil was in 4-3-3 mode, the strategy were drastically different between the two teams. Brazil was in it’s normal operating mode with more attacks, while Belgium relied only on counter attacks. This basically meant that Belgium mentally was aligned that Brazil was a superior team and hence it is better for them to play on a counter attack. To me, this was surprising as this Belgium team looks to be at par in terms of quality with Brazil. Further, to bolster their aerial attacks, Belgium went for their tall players like Fellini in their first eleven.
- The first half counter attacks of Belgium was at fast pace which resulted in a brilliant second goal of Belgium. Lukaku was always a big threat to Brazil just through his physical presence. Then playing De Bruyne way up besides Hazard was a great strategy, instead of a slightly withdrawn midfielder. It was a bit sad that Belgium did not try for more attacks in the second half as I think they could have scored more goals.
- Brazil on the other hand played its fluid style attacks, but in that process again committed too many players upfront which created big gaps for Belgium to exploit in their counter attacks. Also, there was no presence of big striker which will always cause opponent defense to be a bit shaky. Jesus was quite ordinary throughout the world cup and if he was the main striker with that height, the advantages of having free kicks and other dead ball situations goes out of the window.
- The second half was a story of missed chances by Brazil. You cannot expect a team to win a world cup quarterfinals if you cannot convert those chances. While we can be critical of Brazilian scoring ability in this match, I think we all should stand up and applaud the heroics of Courtois under the bar for Belgium. He ensured Belgium is in the game with many great saves throughout the match.
- Finally my personal view on Neymar. He is no doubt a great player of modern football, though he is too fragile in strong physical play. However, he really needs to introspect on his performance in this world cup through his playacting. Never has a great player been ridiculed so much through jokes, meme’s, videos highlighting his comical and irritating antics on the field. He has become the biggest “thief” in this world cup and has been a big shame to football. He is losing respect as a player across the world just because of his simulations and acting. It’s a sad story for him – very often, he looks like a spoilt brat on the field. On top of it, Brazilian team management and coaches have been encouraging this behavior! This is a big shame in this world cup and unless he does something drastically on this aspect, he will be treated badly and will be soon the biggest comedian in modern days football. And the surprising thing is that he does not need to do all this, given the quality he has as a pure footballer. Hope there is sensible counselling for him in the near future!