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Brazil v Belgium: Whose stars can shine the brightest?

2:41 AM GMT 05/07/2018
Brazil v Belgium
Two star-studded teams are set to collide in Kazan

When the action gets underway in Kazan between Brazil and Belgium there may be a few stars in the Russian sky, but there will be more on the pitch.

From the Brazilian contingent of Neymar, Philippe Countinho and Gabriel Jesus, to the Belgian brigade of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne - Kazan is set to witness to two sides filled with individual talent do battle for a semi-final spot.

Both teams have relied on their stars to step up in Russia so far and it will likely be who can shine the brightest that will determine who leaves the pitch a winner.

Brazil will enter the match as slight favourites having won their past three matches against Belgium and only exiting at the quarter-finals stage of a World Cup twice in seven appearances.

While his theatrics have stolen the show, Neymar has inevitably starred with the ball at his feet too in Russia - scoring and involved in Brazil's second in a 2-0 win over Mexico in the round of 16.

That contribution has continued the PSG attackers fine form at international level with Neymar involved in 20 goals across his past 19 matches for Brazil.

The South Americans have been building up steam in Russia after a slow start but do have a poor history against European nations at the World Cup having been knocked out by teams from the continent in the past three tournaments.

Belgium will be hoping to extend that run to four but must overcome their own troubled record against South American opposition with the Belgians losing three of their past four World Cup games against them.

In their favour however, is the fact they are on a 23-game unbeaten streak - the longest of any side remaining in the competition. 

Finding a way to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Japan and win 3-2 in added time, Belgium showed a mental edge they've long been missing and are further boosted by two players in fine form.

Captain Hazard has been directly involved in 19 goals in his past 18 games for Belgium, while striker Lukaku has scored with four of his five shots on target so far at the 2018 World Cup.

While a difficult game to predict, the quality of players set to play on the pitch in Kazan is unquestioned and it may well come down to one moment of magic from them to separate these two sides. 

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