ANALYSIS: Martinez’s Belgian waffle finally falls to France

Alan O’Brien 

Little of the laudatory coverage hailing Roberto Martinez’s apparent tactical victory over Brazil made any sense. Belgium’s haphazard hybrid shape offered up chance after chance to Tite’s wasteful troops on Friday. France, just as defensively sound as Brazil here, simply did not suffer the Selecao‘s incredible misfortune. Finally, therefore, Martinez was made to pay for his hubris-fueled tactical codology. Continue reading

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ANALYSIS: Ragged Red Devils survive Brazilian barrage

Alan O’Brien 

Knockout football has always been capable of throwing up the odd aberration, but this one takes the cake. Tite’s Brazil created three big chances, and at least four very good ones. Roberto Martinez’s Belgium, at the Selecao‘s mercy on the flanks throughout, created absolutely nothing. And, yet, the Red Devils are looking forward to a World Cup semi-final, while Brazil contemplate the long journey home. Football, eh? Continue reading

ANALYSIS: Samurai set-piece nightmare spares Belgian blushes

Alan O’Brien 

On a thrilling night in Rostov, Japan’s traditional dead-ball frailty ultimately proved the Samurai Blue’s undoing. But let not Belgium’s thrilling turnaround paper over the yawning cracks in the Red Devils ranks. Doubts have long lingered about Roberto Martinez’s system; specifically its ability to withstand top-class attacks. And those doubts were confirmed here in spades, despite Belgium’s eventual progression. Continue reading