Expansive Belgium versus pragmatic France could decide the 2018 champions

Expansive Belgium versus pragmatic France could decide the 2018 champions

Kante and Giroud of France take on Belgium's Hazard and Courtois in the World Cup semi-finals this evening.

The last time Belgium lost a match was in August, 2016.

Jean-Marie Pfaff, the Belgium goalkeeper when they last reached the World Cup semi-finals in 1986, told AFP's German sports agency SID that Henry would be "France's main opponent" in the semi-final. They defend well. They know how to attack well. At the end, you do all you can to win and if they're better, they're better. Then there's the heading ability of its defenders Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany, and of midfielder Marouane Fellaini.

Though a very different player from the elegant Frenchman, the powerfully built Lukaku showed a touch of Henry in his intelligent dummy that allowed the ball to run through to Nacer Chadli to score Belgium's victor in the thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 win over Japan in the last 16.

Croatia will be physically and emotionally exhausted after back-to-back penalty shootout victories, which hands a clear advantage to England should they make a quick start to the game on Wednesday. We know it will be a tough match.

"The "Little Belgians" aren't little any longer", he said in an editorial headlined "Belgium in the final".

"I think Raheem Sterling is an important player because he is fast and risky alongside Harry Kane", Dalic said.

There's always been a degree of friendly tension between the two, with France regarding Belgium, and its French-speaking Wallonia region, as something of a poor cousin, while the Belgians often dismiss France as patronizing and faux-superior.

'When you go to a club overseas and play one from your own country, you are part of the enemy team, ' said France coach Didier Deschamps on Monday. "For him tomorrow it could be a bit hard, but he works for Belgium now, he wants us to win". But we are not going to forget the others since France has a very complete attacking pattern. It signalled the blossoming of the defensive duo of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti, who had managed to keep Luis Suarez and co at bay with rock-solid display at the back.

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Belgium have undeniably been the standout side in the tournament, scoring a total of 14 goals in five matches. I thought the fact I can play vertically and have a direct style could help. "He's becoming more and more aggressive in his tackling, and it's great to count on him".

As the semi-finals battle kicks off in the ongoing FIFA World Cup to decide the two finalists for the July 15 showdown at the Luzhniki Stadium, the four combatants must first slug it out for the two available slots in the grand finale.

"My role for the team is to create opportunities and to give passes that my forward teammates can use to make the difference, " he said. The rest of the side needs no changing anyway, with the forward line, comprising of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, starting to get in its stride.

"It still hurts because we missed out on something exceptional in becoming European champions".

The misgivings with regard to France was on the tactical balance and choice of players Didier Deschamps would start with.

Belgium put a plan in place to develop young footballing talent in the country more than a decade ago, with the current crop of senior players seen as the fruits of that labour. "We have to do everything we can to take it".

In midfield, N'Golo Kante has been colossal thus far, and will need to continue in the same mould on Tuesday to stop a marauding Kevin De Bruyne.

De Bruyne says that wherever he plays, his mind-set remains essentially the same. "That's why we hardly saw Messi".

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