En la previa de Bélgica-Brasil decíamos que Roberto Martínez de seguro pensaría más de una vez si mantener el once tipo que lo llevó hasta Cuartos de Final o adaptarse al rival de turno y matizar la propuesta. El entrenador español optó por la segunda opción, de una forma impensada. Porque la salida de Dries Mertens podía estar en los planes; incluso la de Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, por su ADN de delantero. Pero el cambio a un 4-3-3, con tres volantes centrales, marcas personales en la mitad de la cancha y Romelu Lukaku desde banda derecha, sorprendió. Al fin y al cabo, Martínez estaba convencido de que su propuesta agresiva, de golpe por golpe, no era la conveniente para jugar ante el gran candidato, visto su nivel y el estado de forma en el que llegaban.

Pero Brasil no es que se haya preocupado demasiado por los ajustes de su rival. Tite volvió a optar por su 4-3-3, con el regreso de Marcelo como lateral izquierdo. Así, aquel carril recuperaba otra carta llena de imaginación y calidad ofensiva. De hecho, la Verdeamarelha comenzó bien, con ritmo, toques, asociaciones e incluso llegadas de gol. Pero hubo un problema innegable en su once inicial que no tardó en aparecer: la ausencia de Casemiro por acumulación de tarjetas amarillas. Con Fernandinho en lugar del pivote del Real Madrid, Brasil perdió un recurso para interceptar posibles contraataques. Por varios momentos, los de Tite fueron un calco de Alemania y España, otras dos selecciones que buscaron el protagonismo y atacaron con mucha gente, pero sufrieron a la hora de retroceder.

Para que aquello suceda, hubo mucho mérito en el plantel de Martínez. El paso a línea de cuatro le permitió a Bélgica evitar ataques en igualdad numérica. Pero también el agregado de Marouane Fellaini y Nacer Chadli le permitió a Axel Witsel ser un pivote con libertad total para realizar apoyos en los costados. Mientras Chadli -interior izquierdo- seguía a Paulinho por toda la cancha, el de Manchester United hacía lo propio con Philippe Coutinho. Si bien Brasil pudo hilvanar buenas jugadas, esos siete belgas por detrás de la pelota realizaban una buena defensa. Una vez recuperada la pelota, se daba paso al siguiente nivel. Kevin De Bruyne, que también marcaba de cerca a Fernandinho, jugó por el centro, con mucha movilidad y consciente de que cada pelota podía ser una chance de gol.

Pero la gran actuación del partido -y quizás del Mundial- fue la de Eden Hazard. El capitán belga sacó algo de cada pelota que pasó por sus pies. Interpretó en cada momento lo que su equipo necesitaba: tiempo para permitirle a sus compañeros salir, faltas generadas para respirar, y la más importante, una facilidad pasmosa para deshacerse de rivales y enfilar hacia el arco rival. El lateral derecho brasileño, Fagner, no pudo incursionar en ataque durante toda la jornada. Y para males brasileños, en la otra banda Romelu Lukaku aprovechaba cada proyección de Marcelo para situarse allí, atraer a Joao Miranda, estirar a la última línea y volver más peligrosas las incorporaciones ofensivas de De Bruyne, Meunier, Fellaini, Chadli y por supuesto, el propio Hazard. El 2-0 fue un envión anímico importante para aunque Brasil no tardó en volver a la carga con el ingreso de Douglas Costa. Sólo quedó resistir cada embestida para esperar el pitazo final. Bélgica está en semifinales de un Mundial, algo que no ocurría desde México 1986. Pero esta vez, hay una generación decidida a quedar en la historia.


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1994. Si no rueda una pelota me siento incompleto. Cuando sea grande diré que vi jugar a Messi. Disfruto de leer y escribir.

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