Monday, 23 July, 2018

France beat Belgium to reach World Cup 2018 final

France and Belgium fight it out for World Cup final place France beat Belgium to reach World Cup 2018 final
Cassandra Castillo | 11 July, 2018, 04:55

Who will come out on top?

With so many world-class players on display this World Cup semi-final should be an absolute classic - or it will end in a drab goalless draw with the winners reaching Sunday's final via a penalty shoot-out.

Mick Jagger was one of the many famous faces in the stands at St. Petersburg Stadium. Andres Cunha (Uruguay) will be the referee.

Lukaku led the counter-attack which led to Belgium's second goal against Brazil in the quarter-final and also set up their victor against Japan in the second round with an astute, unselfish dummy. Matuidi is likely to replace Corentin Tolisso in the French side. France will need to show their maturity here.

Belgium's rapid counters should make this a remarkably stretched game, not unlike France's 4-3 victory over Argentina, with huge gaps opening centrally for the young Paris Saint-Germain forward.

France will be at full strength ahead of this game.

The one doubtful player is Samuel Umtiti. The FC Barcelona centre-back has a knee injury, and his availability will depend on a fitness test closer to kick-off. They defend well. They know how to attack well.

'Quite simply, I think Belgium is the most complete side in the tournament, in all aspects of the game, ' the 31-year-old Lloris said Monday.' They defend well.

The last time they met in a World Cup was 1986, when France defeated Belgium in the third-place game in Mexico.

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"Because of the seven years I spent in France I feel 99 percent Belgian and one percent French, but the idea of taking French nationality never crossed my mind" Hazard once said when asked about the possibility. Will Belgium be up to the challenge?

With Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar no longer in Russia, Eden Hazard and Mbappe have taken over as the stars of the World Cup and there was a buzz every time either got the ball.

Belgium's chances of stopping their opponents are dented by the absence of suspended right back Thomas Meunier but Deschamps believes his charges are equally capable of adapting to any situation. The PSG right-back received his second yellow card against Brazil.

The final change Martinez made was to play Nacer Chadli in place of Dries Mertens as a traditional wide player.

Friends and foes at the same time? Marouane Fellaini, who has oft-partnered Pogba in the United midfield, will now be looking to stop the powerful Frenchman. This means that the club will have at least one representative in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final.

Watch the second goal scored by Japan against Belgium, and you'll see Kevin De Bruyne meandering at a snail's pace as Alex Witsel runs out to prevent Genki Haraguchi from shooting. Belgium had 64 percent possession but struggled with the speed of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, while its midfield was outclassed by Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante. Lukaku is on four goals and Griezmann and Mbappe have three each.

Both sides know what is like to turn results around during the current World Cup campaign. Both matches happened during the Round of 16.

"We showed character and mentality, it was very hard for us tonight". One where the stakes will be extremely high between two attacking-minded sides.

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