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Brazil Belgium World Cup 2018

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Brazil and Belgium aim to avoid following Spain

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Brazil's Neymar celebrates after the match on June 27 against Serbia REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

Brazil and Belgium go into their last 16 games against Mexico and Japan respectively on Monday keen to avoid the fate of title favourites Spain who were ousted by hosts Russia on Sunday.


Brazil, seeking a record sixth World Cup crown, play in Samara against Mexico who caused the first shock of the 2018 tournament with a 1-0 win over the defending champions Germany.

Brazil coach Tite said Neymar, with only one goal in the competition so far is approaching his best form again, four months after undergoing surgery on a fractured foot.

"He has returned to a very high level. He knows about the price he's had to pay to get back to this level," said Tite.

Brazil will be without left-back Marcelo due to a back problem. Filipe Luis will take his place against a Mexico side who are aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time after six consecutive eliminations in the last 16.

Coach Juan Carlos Osorio said he was not concerned about the past. "We don't talk about that to our players. We spoke about the possibility of coming up against Brazil a few months ago, and here we are," he said.

The winner of the tie will face either Belgium or Japan who meet in Rostov-on-Don.

had differing fortunes on the way to the last 16. Japan scraped through thanks to the fair play rule, having collected four bookings in their three Group H games against Poland, Colombia and Senegal while the west Africans racked up six.

Belgium won all three of their games in Group G. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez rested key players including skipper Eden Hazard and midfielder Kevin de Bruyne for the final match against England.

Adnan Januzaj, who is rejuvenating his career at Real Sociedad after disappointing spells at Manchester United and Sunderland, scored the winner in that match but is unlikely to feature in the last 16 fixture after injuring a knee in training.

"This is our time to shine, definitely,” said Hazard on the eve of the clash. “We have top players and we play as a group, especially after the win over England. "It's in our hands, we need to give everything and see what happens."

"Maybe Belgium feel the tournament is starting after their three wins, but I'd like to feel we are on a par with them. We have played to our best, but the players have something more to offer," said Japan coach Akira Nishino.