De Bruyne's deployment could be critical for Belgium

De Bruyne's deployment could be critical for Belgium

"I think it's the first time that I've seen Kevin growing into a very important player of this group on the pitch in the most important moments", Martinez said.

Chadli and Marouane Fellaini were brought on and the latter slotted in alongside Witsel, allowing De Bruyne, who up until that point had been shut down by Japan, more freedom to roam without compromising his defence.

"What is important in football is that you have a style where players can take it to the elite level", he said. "But now it is time for each of us to defend our corner and I hope to come out on top", Willian said at Brazil's training base in Sochi on Wednesday. Kompany says the only way to beat Brazil is to play as a team.

"I am more mature and have more experience than at the last World Cup, and the team is more consistent", insisted Willian, who appeared from the bench in the 7-1 semi-final humiliation against Germany in 2014.

"I am really happy for the match, not only individually but also for the whole team".

"Individually, Brazil are the strongest team in this World Cup", Kompany, who made the last of his worldwide appearances as a substitute in the 1-0 win over England, told reporters.

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"We have been preparing for months, for weeks to play matches like that", said France coach Didier Deschamps. "We have been briefed in detail about them and how they play, and I know them personally". "We are facing a huge game in the quarter-finals and it doesn't matter who the opponents are".

"It is special. We can't let them down back home now".

'It's like playing in the school playground and you have a 16-year-old playing against the 11-year-olds, It's like that he's too big and too strong for everyone, ' Ferdinand explained.

In the round of 16 against Japan, it was De Bruyne's surging 60-metre run out of defence that created the last-gasp victor for Nacer Chadli to seal a remarkable comeback and send the Red Devils into their quarter-final against Brazil.

As has been the case throughout this World Cup, Brazilian forward Neymar will likely garner much of the attention during the match, both for his skills and speed as well as his on-field theatrics.

To be fair to his critics, though, what the midfield maestro has not been able to do in Russian Federation is dictate play in the last third of the pitch as he has done so successfully at club level for Manchester City.

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