Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

France v Belgium: Mbappe misses training but Deschamps eases fears

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Cassandra Castillo | 10 July, 2018, 14:00

It all means Deschamps and his support staff will have being doing some second-guessing about how Belgium's attacking players will approach Tuesday's challenge, motivated by the lure of a first World Cup final. Eden Hazard has already been quick to credit coach Roberto Martinez, who masterminded the victory by pushing both Hazard & Romelu Lukaku out onto the wings, with the aim of defending deep and catching Brazil on the break. Prediction: "France 2-1 Belgium".

De Bruyne and Belgium will be hoping he has a rare off-night though, as they battle for the right to play England or Croatia in the World Cup final.

England emerged Champions in the 1966 edition of the World Cup which they hosted and have played in only one semi-final appearance in 14 tournaments. This, however, is a cut above that - Thierry will be on the bench and against his country, his nation.

Hazard and keeper Thibaut Courtois line up opposite Chelsea team mates Ngolo Kante and Olivier Giroud while Paul Pogba faces Manchester United colleagues Marouane Fellaini and Lukaku. "But tomorrow, on a professional level, he will be putting all the passion that drives him into the Belgian team".

"I am lucky to have spent two seasons with Thierry as part of the France squad - he was a great player, and a top French football guy, so it will be special to see him with the Belgium team", said the Tottenham Hotspur shot-stopper.

"It might be a bit hard for him but he´s working for Belgium now, he wants us to win".

The irony that a player who scored 51 goals in 123 worldwide appearances and helped France become world and European champions is now plotting to stop them reaching the final in Russian Federation is not lost on the current French team. After all, they have won their five World Cup matches, and their road has been significantly tougher than France's one. Brazil, Uruguay, Russia, and Sweden were all sent packing in the quarter-finals.

If he can do that, then the golden generation could well glitter alongside the World Cup, as the winners of this semi-final would be odds-on favourites to lift the trophy on Sunday.

More news: Prince William and Duchess Kate christen third child Prince Louis

"He'll be happy if we win because above all else he is a Frenchman", the 22-year-old left-back said.

"We know we have some unbelievable players and a great manager and everyone is clear on what we want to do".

- Why has World Cup been full of surprises? "But we are not going to forget the others since France has a very complete attacking pattern".

Captain Harry Kane is the man leading England's charge in Russian Federation with six goals so far, putting him top in the race for the Golden Boot.

Three of the last four meetings between the sides have produced under 2.5 goals in total.

Kane may fancy adding to his tally on Wednesday against a Croatia team that has failed to keep a clean sheet in its last three matches. They're expected to field their strongest teams for this one.

The 25-year-old Varane has been does well in Russian Federation, scoring the first goal against Uruguay with a header.

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