The Latest: Expert panel praises Belgium's tactical approach

MOSCOW | The Latest: Expert panel praises Belgium’s tactical approach

MOSCOW — The Latest on Thursday at the World Cup (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Belgium outwitting Brazil in the quarterfinals has been hailed by FIFA’s expert panel as the best tactical success at the World Cup.

A 2-1 win in Kazan was built on Belgium’s impressive first half. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne scored after being given a more attacking and central role, and forward Romelu Lukaku played wider to the right.

Praising Belgium’s tactical flexibility, FIFA technical study group member Andy Roxburgh says “the way they approached that game, the way (coach) Roberto Martinez set them up was fantastic.”

Roxburgh says the World Cup showcased “incredible variety” of national styles despite most stars playing in Europe.

The former Scotland coach says: “Yes, we’ve got globalization, yes, the influence of the Champions League on players, but all of these players have been brought up within their own country so they have a certain mentality about them.”

The influence of Pep Guardiola’s coaching philosophy was seen across the tournament, Roxburgh says.

Teams favored “high intensity pressing” of opponents with players showing “speed of action and speed of thought.”

Roxburgh praises England as “like the kings of the corner kick” at a tournament where teams paid special attention to set plays.

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3:00 p.m.

FIFA’s technical director Marco van Basten says Neymar needs to cut down on theatrics after the Brazil star became a butt of jokes worldwide.

Van Basten says diving and simulating injury is “not a good attitude” and works against Neymar and his team.

The Netherlands great suggests “if you are acting too much I think everybody will understand that it’s not going to help you. I think he personally should understand his situation.”

Neymar was calculated to have spent almost 14 minutes on the turf injured or simulating injury during Brazil’s five World Cup games, sometimes dramatically rolling over on the ground before coming to a stop.

It started a trend in online videos of youth soccer teams practicing faking injury when their coach called out Neymar’s name.

Van Basten was asked about Neymar at a FIFA briefing analyzing tactics and technical skills at the World Cup.

He says Neymar “makes people laugh so also I think that’s a positive thing. It’s always nice if we have some humor in the game.”

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By Associated Press