SALVADOR Brazil (Reuters) - Belgium's Kevin de Bruyne is expecting Tuesday's World Cup last 16 clash with the United States to be a tough physical encounter, he told reporters on his 23rd birthday on Saturday.
"They are physically very strong and they'll be going for it. We may under no circumstances compare Tuesday's game with our friendly in Cleveland last year," the midfielder said, referring to a 4-2 win for the Belgians just over a year ago in the last meeting between the two countries.
"Now it's real cup football and every situation could possibly end your tournament or put you through.
"I can't imagine how disappointing it would be to exit against the U.S. The most important thing is that we win this game and don't worry too much about the comments afterwards."
Belgium won all three of their group matches but have not raised the pulses of observers with their standard of play, particularly given the quality of players in their squad.
"Everyone is saying we must be more attacking but look who we have played against. Algeria and Russia set up steady defensive blocks against us. If we get more room, then you will see how creative our players can be," De Bruyne told a press conference at the team base in Mogi das Cruzes, near Sao Paulo.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Neil Maidment)