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World Cup final virgins Belgium face 6-time winners Brazil
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez urged his players to cross a psychological bridge in their World Cup quarter-final clash against Brazil on Friday night in Kazan. Brazil are attempting to win the title for the sixth time while Belgium have never been to a final.
"They know how to win World Cups,” said Martinez. “They've done it more than any other nation so they have that psychological barrier out of the way.
“Of course we want to win and we're going to try to win. The most important aspect is our chance to play in the quarter-final."
Brazil were solid and clinical in their 2-0 last 16 triumph over Juan Carlos Osorio’s bright but brittle Mexico team.
Belgium pulled off the best World Cup comeback since 1970 in their last 16 game against Japan. Trailing by two goals with 20 minutes remaining, they made up the deficit and in the dying seconds counterattacked with ferocious beauty to steal the game.
Second-half substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli both scored in that 20-minute renaissance and Martinez will have to decide whether to reward their efforts with a place in the starting line-up or maintain his faith in more ball-playing midfielders.
Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku will lead the forward line. He has scored four goals in three games and his dummy to take away a Japan defender during the winning counterattack will be remembered as much as Chadli’s compsed finish.
"I've told the lads nothing in life is easy, you have to fight for it," said Lukaku. "We're up against the favourites. But this will show us where we stand as a team. We're not prepared just to settle for second best."