To get past Belgium in the quarter-finals at the World Cup, Brazil have to do something they have not been able to do since they last won the tournament in 2002: overcome European opposition in the knockout stages.

Since beating Germany 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup final, the five-time winners have been eliminated by European sides in the three subsequent competitions.

Brazil lost to France and the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and were humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals four years ago at home.

Fortunately for the Selecao, Belgium have a poor record against South American sides at the World Cup.

Not only have Belgium never won any of their games against South American teams in the knockout stages, they haven’t even managed to score a goal.

Most recently, Belgium lost 1-0 to Argentina in the 2014 quarter-finals.

The core of that side remains in place in Russia, where Belgium have won all four of their matches, including coming back from 2-0 down to beat Japan in the round of 16 with a thrilling counter-attack in the final seconds of stoppage time.

Everyone is aware of the array of talent running through the Belgium side, from Thibaut Courtois in goal to Kevin De Bruyne in midfield and Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku up front.

The main questions following disappointing defeats in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship centred on the team’s character.

That 3-2 victory over Japan was the first time a team has overcome a two-goal deficit to win outright since West Germany beat England in 1970, and the first to do it in normal time since Portugal came from three down to beat North Korea in 1966.

Belgium are the competition’s top scorers with 12 in their four games, with the goals spread around the team.

Lukaku has four but seven of his team-mates have scored, too.

Though Brazil have yet to hit the heights on the attacking front, they and Uruguay have been the meanest defences in the competition, conceding just one goal apiece in four matches.

There is a worry for Brazil heading into the Belgium match, as the team will be without midfielder Casemiro, who is suspended after picking up a second yellow card in the 2-0 win over Mexico in the round of 16.

Casemiro has provided a strong shield in front of the Brazilian defence.

One option could see Fernandinho come into the side for a role he is accustomed to playing at Manchester City.

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.

Neymar will have to be careful not to pick up another booking as he would miss the semi-final should Brazil prevail.

Others walking a tightrope are midfielder Philippe Coutinho and defender Filipe Luis.

For Belgium, defender Jan Vertonghen and De Bruyne are carrying yellow cards as well.

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