Martinez: De Bruyne Influence "Essential" For Belgium

Watch: The best social media memes as fans troll Neymar roll

But the world's most expensive player has hit the headlines as much for his perceived play-acting as for the on-pitch performances that have helped his side ease into the last eight without ever being seriously troubled. The main questions following disappointing defeats in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship centred on the team's character.

"The team has evolved since the first game", Willian added.

After automatically qualifying as host country and entering the tournament as the lowest-ranked side, Russian Federation reached the World Cup knockout stage for the first time in post-Soviet history after victories against Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Neymar claimed his critics are trying to "undermine" him after he sizzled in the baking Samara heat to send Brazil into the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

Coach Roberto Martinez won praise for his substitutions, with both Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli scoring, the latter with practically the last kick of the match.

The Spaniard went on to urge his players to raise their game in their upcoming semi-final clash with France, who defeated Uruguay in the day's other quarter-final. "But if we make this a match of individuals, then we'll lose", he said.

But Ronaldo said Neymar - who is one of the most fouled players in the entire tournament - needed more protecting.

The victor will play France or Uruguay in the semifinals in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Belgium, meanwhile, are the tournament's top scorers, banging in 12 goals in their four games so far. Players have to be fearless to change the way we play and we had two days to do it.

"We're constantly improving. We just have to step up to another level against Brazil". One option could see Fernandinho come into the side for a role he is accustomed to playing at Manchester City.

Much of the focus surrounding Brazil's bid for a record-extending sixth world title has inevitably been on Neymar. I don't care (what Neymar does).

Their win over Mexico showed textbook defending from the central pairing of Thiago Silva and Miranda, assisted by full backs Fagner and Filipe Luis.

Belgium's Vincent Kompany (R) and Kevin De Bruyne attend a training session at Dedovsk, Moscow Region, Russia - July 5, 2018.

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