Martinez: De Bruyne Influence "Essential" For Belgium

But when asked in his post-match press conference if claims that he is a diva were unfair, Neymar said: "Look, I think it's more of an attempt to undermine me than anything else".

"What is important in football is that you have a style where players can take it to the elite level", he said. "It's so sad to see where they are and we hope they get out safe and sound".

The Manchester City defendwe, who plays in defence for his country, has now turned his attention to Brazil rallying behind his troops to excel.

Belgium's quarter-final battle with Brazil will be a classic encounter between an unstoppable force and an immovable object when the tournament's joint best defense comes up against its most free-scoring attack in Kazan on Friday. "It is up to us to take the game to them and play our game".

"I try to make people understand that nothing will change in our preparation".

Kevin De Bruyne is best known for creating goals for his teammates - the reigning Premier League assist king had 16 helpers this season (20 in all competitions) - but he scores a fair few goals of his own (12 across all comps in 2017-18).

"We can enjoy it from the first minute", Martinez said.

Tite indicated that he was impressed by how quickly the former Barcelona star had recovered, saying: "With Neymar you don't have to be skilled to know he will develop and we were following his work".

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. "We are facing a huge game in the quarter-finals and it doesn't matter who the opponents are".

'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.

Much of the focus surrounding Brazil's bid for a record-extending sixth world title has inevitably been on Neymar. It'll be a very special day for us, but I believe in our chances.

Belgium were on the brink of another major tournament failure when trailing 2-0 with 21 minutes to play, only for a magnificent breakway goal by Nacer Chadli in the fourth minute of injury-time to cap a stunning fightback.

  • Stacy Allen