Martinez backing Meunier to shackle PSG team-mate Neymar

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Belgium have the inside track on Brazil's superstar No. 10 as their right wing-back plays alongside him at club level and has marked him well before

Roberto Martinez is backing Thomas Meunier to halt his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar when Belgium take on Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals in Kazan on Friday.

Meunier has been in terrific form for the Red Devils during the tournament, providing the assist for Nacer Chadli’s winner against Japan in the first knockout round to set up a clash against the five-time world champions.

Neymar has been playing himself into form - with a goal and assist against Mexico in the second round on Monday - but Martinez is counting on his right wing-back’s knowhow to deal with the most expensive footballer on the planet.

The Belgium boss recalled a game in which Meunier shackled Neymar before he moved to Paris in the summer of 2017, when he was still very much in the colours of Barcelona.

“It was one of the best defensive performances that Thomas Meunier has had and probably one of the best performances against Neymar,” Martinez said during an exclusive interview with Goal ahead of the last-eight clash.

“On that day, Paris Saint-Germain against Barcelona, it was a 4-0 defeat for Barcelona where Thomas Meunier defended Neymar’s area really well.

“But then he went forward and assisted the fourth goal and it was a complete performance.”

Meunier is not the only Belgian with intimate knowledge of Neymar, who has attracted criticism during this World Cup for his propensity to go to ground.

“The relationships are all over the place,” said Martinez. “Thomas Vermaelen played with Neymar at Barcelona.”

Meunier can stop PSG team-mate Neymar - Martinez

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has watched Thomas Meunier stop Neymar before - he's confident he can do it again when Belgium take on Brazil Exclusive interview with Peter Staunton Posted by Goal.com on Thursday, 5 July 2018

And that level of detail could be key in deciding the outcome of this quarter-final match and with it a place in the semi-final next week alongside Uruguay or France.

 “I think what this World Cup has shown is that the information is there for everyone to see,” the Catalan said.

“There are no secrets. It’s more who adapts to the day, to the occasion and to the game better. And that’s what we need to do.

“I think we need to forget about playing against these individual players and this team because they’ve got an extra meaning, and just see through what we need to do on the day and how we can impose ourselves in the game.

“Because every team’s got weaknesses and every team’s got strengths.”

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