The Red Devils are underway with their preparations in Dedovsk for their football World Cup quarter-final match against Brasil on Friday evening (8.00 p.m.) in Kazan. However, Roberto Martinez has placed emphasis on recovery after the Round-of-Sixteen match against Japan, which the Red Devils won by 3-2 in the dying minutes of the game after trailing by 0-2. This was the first time since 1970 that a team managed to win after being led by 0-2 in the knock-out phase of a World Cup, which gives an idea of the mental strength and confidence in the Belgian team. “I have always continued to believe in it and I knew we only needed one goal to get us going,” Martinez told the press on Tuesday at the Moscow Country Club.
The focus of the training sessions on Wednesday and Thursday is on tactics. The Red Devils will leave for Kazan half a day later than originally scheduled and will thus be able to have three training sessions before Friday evening’s duel against the five-time world champions.
The question now is: How will Martinez approach the match against the tournament favourite? The match against Japan exposed the team’s weaknesses, but the coach says he already has his plan in his mind. On Tuesday, he spoke of a four-man defence. In fact, there are four defenders when the ball is lost, and even five when the two wingers fall back. Counter attacks by the opposing side can be dangerous since everyone cannot come back in time. Japan’s first goal was a case in point. It was an error by Jan Vertonghen that permitted the Japanese to score. Against the Seleçao’s 4-3-3 formation, the Devils will have to avoid giving too many gifts to Neymar on the left, Willian on the right and Gabriel Jesus.
Beefing up the midfield is one possibility. With Fernandinho (replacing Casemiro, who is suspended), Paulinho and Coutinho, Brazil can cause problems in the middle for Axel Witsel and Kevin De Bruyne
In the game against Japan, Shinji Kagawa skilfully plunged in behind the two midfielders in the early part of the game. A solution could be replacing Dries Mertens with Marouane Fellaini in the starting line-up, but that would mean losing Fellaini’s contribution when he surges forward.
Nacer Chadli is also close to being one of the starters, possibly taking the place of Yannick Carrasco.
However, one will have to wait until Friday to know for sure what Roberto Martinez will do since he has no intention of exposing his game plan.
The Brussels Times