In one of the more anticipated quarterfinal matches in the FIFA World Cup, Brazil and Belgium clashed in what was an eventful contest between the two nations.
It was a battle between a team tipped for glory, while the other is going through its own “golden generation” and are potentially at their best as well.
After 90 thrilling minutes of world-class football, Belgium stood tall with a 2-1 victory and effectively knocked out the five-time World Cup winners.
With that victory, the Red Devils are only two wins away from winning their first ever title. On the other hand, the Brazilians are again left to wonder where they went wrong and how they can regain their dominance in the beautiful game.
Here are some of the biggest talking points in the thrilling match-up.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE IS A SUPERSTAR
In this contest, many were in awe at the talent on the pitch between both teams. Brazil had Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Marcelo, while Belgium had Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.
After all was said and done, it was De Bruyne who was head and shoulders above all the others and is now emerging as a world-class talent whether playing for club or country.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez finally allowed the former Chelsea player to operate nearer the attacking third of the pitch, and it has resulted in some impressive runs and threatening moments for the Belgian side.
Already with a one-goal lead thanks to an own goal from Brazil, the Belgians doubled their lead thanks to De Bruyne after he played a pass through traffic to find Marouane Fellaini but eventually it was De Bruyne who found the ball on his feet as he struck the ball beautifully to give them a two-goal cushion.
It would eventually be the difference from them going home and moving on in the competition.
FERNANDINHO’S NIGHTMARE GAME
It was supposed to be a match that would help him win his place in Brazil’s starting XI but Fernandinho’s efforts fell flat as his team bowed out.
In the team’s holding midfielder position, Casemiro and Fernandinho often jostled to see who would get picked but the Real Madrid man was often the first choice for his excellent play in the position.
Unfortunately, a second yellow card against Mexico meant that he would be out of the quarters against Belgium and Fernandinho was finally tapped to step-up.
Things started off shaky for the Manchester City man and he eventually scored the game’s opener – but it was in the wrong side of the goal.
Already with a costly mistake, Fernandinho never quite got the grasp of the game as he was easily beaten by the Belgium midfielders and attacks constantly were targeted within his area as he was unable to match position and pace with the Red Devils.
QUESTIONABLE PERSONNEL CHOICE
Despite looking like a dominant team before facing Belgium in the quarters, there have been many questioning coach Tite’s choices in the starting XI.
After a draw in their World Cup opener, Brazil recovered and looked on their way, but people were raising questions why Tite has underutilised Douglas Costa and constantly preferred Gabriel Jesus over Roberto Firmino.
With the loss to Belgium, he is likely to face more questions regarding this as the Manchester City man has always been chosen to start but never scored in the competition, while the Liverpool forward was key in their match against Mexico as he scored only three minutes after coming in.
Furthermore, the South American outfit looked like a more threatening team when the substitutions were made. Eventually, their lone goal in the contest came from another substitute in Renato Augusto.
However, the questions would be leaning towards Douglas Costa and Firmino, with both seemingly playing better and deserved a spot in the starting XI against Belgium. If the two were in the line-up to begin the game, the outcome may be different and Brazil may be moving on.