Saturday, 7 July 2018


brazil played belgium in the q/f of the world cup . brazil started the game with 4-4-2 formation with neymar starting alongside jesus upfront . while belgium started the game with 4-3-3 formation with fellaini starting the game alongside witsel in the belgium midfield . while chadli was there to support witsel and fellaini . should we call martinez a brilliant manager or is it that he just survived the test . for me brazil just didnt do enough to test belgium and didnt do enough to test them . martinez must had studied brazil and he had seen where neymar operates and he wanted to just close down that zone but at the same time he didnt tried to stop him or try to man mark him instead he just allowed him to have the ball and let him drive to get him isolated and then stopped him . fellaini and munier did an excellent job when he went either ways .
the game started with belgium sitting back but at the same time keeping lukaku,hazard and de bruyne high up the pitch so that he can hit brazil on the counter while at the same time he had 7 players back .  belgium were set up in a very specific way they just wanted to defend the 18 yard box and didnt bothered to chase brazil on wide side . instead they wanted brazil to come inside and then stop them . belgium were so compact that no two players had more than 5 yard space between them . martinez had studied how brazil operates and he knew that if he stops neymar he virtually stops because they try to find him on the pitch . so fellaini was specifically placed from where neymar likes to cut inside to stop him . chadli who started the match was suppose to start at the left back but vertroghen started there and chadli started in the middle three . jesus who starts in the middle cannot beat toby and kompany in the air and both have decent pace . belgium had the first chance when de bruyne found fellaini in the hole who scuffed his short . the warning signs were there for both sides which belgium having some clearances of their own in front of their goal . 
in the first half brazil were trying to control the tempo of the game . they were actually trying to slow the tempo of the game so that they could asses the belgium formation and then try to open them . the trouble with brazil was that brazil were just not able to put more than three players  together in the move then they were able to bring belgium in trouble just look at willian ,pauliniho and wagner combining on the right side and belgium had some scary moments . first off brazil mostly like to operate from the left because neymar likes to operate from there . secondly he has coutiniho and marcelo to complement on that side . but at the same time he likes to spend time on the ball where on if the opposition is good enough then they can stop him . brazil's offense was a story of two half's . in the first half brazil were seen trying to slow down the pace of the game and try to control the tempo which can be upped at their behest . the trouble was that brazil's two player were combining together but they were not able to bring the third into the play and really stretch belgiums defense . the other trouble was that brazil's slow build up was aiding belgium's defense who were able to organise themselves properly to stop brazil in the track . had brazil brought the ball from back to front quicker they troubled belgium . brazil ended the first half two down .so a change was necessary .
brazil on offense while belgiums shape to counter . 
brazil made changes in the second half . they brought firmino who a better link player than jesus who was switch wide with willian making way . tite thought that belgium were not stretched enough so he wanted to have marcelo high up the pitch while lukaku was marked by miranda . so marcelo was sent high of the pitch to try to open up belgiums defense . but then belgium had already noticed that they cannot out to stop marcelo so they wanted him to come inside and waited for him to cross or come inside . even though the players and formation  were changed but the script remained the same for brazil . they just couldnt have a good interplay between their players to trouble belgium's defense who had to thank courtouis . but then he is there for that . it wasnt that belgiums defense was watertight there were spaces that could had been exploited had tite ordered his players and his team showed a little bit of creativity and some patience which they entirely lacked in the second sending one crosses after another . the first goal for brazil showed that belgiums defense wasnt impregnable and had brazil showed some better interplay things would had been different . they should had been patient just look at the number of shots from  beyond the box and had they shown a little patience then .
for belgium lukaku ,hazard and de bruyne started upfront with de bruyne trying to mark fernandiniho his team mate. martinez had the idea that both hazard and lukaku playing on both sides of the pitch will stretch the brazil defense and the spaces will be explored by them . belgium were playing on the counter they scored two in the first half . ( had martinez bouth a page from conte's book of how to operate the front three then i think he would had caused brazil more problems ) . brazil were trying to man mark both hazard and de bruyne but one is skilled and the other is very physical . both can run can on defense and at times i though that at least in the second half belgium just didnt enough on the counter particularly hazard who should had crossed the ball when he had players in the box . instead he choose to keep the ball and in doing so he had to pass the ball back and lost possession . at times it looked like he was trying to prove a point and playing a game of upsmanship . he should had crossed more and that would had kept brazil on the back foot . with lukaku in the box he should had crossed more and tested brazil more instead of trying to  be a smart one .  fellaini was the better player but i would prefer to have dembele who deserve his chance .
martinez passed the test but it would be better to assess to how he can get his three front players to combine together rather front three going in three different ways . instead try to combine them together because france will be a lot tougher than brazil .