Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

France v Belgium: key head-to-head battles to look out for

What the stats say Set-piece kings England a threat to everyone in final four France vs Belgium Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats
Rita Gibson | 10 July, 2018, 20:55

The first semi-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup takes place on Tuesday, with France and Belgium set to clash at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Russian Federation.

"It happens sometimes when you play in a foreign club and come back and play against a French team".

Hazard grew up supporting France, having moved to Lille at the age of 14 after living in the French-speaking region of Belgium, but will square off against them on Tuesday night at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

In the generation's immediate future is Belgium's first semifinal since 1986.

The Belgian team, which leads the tournament scoring in Russian Federation with 14 goals in its five World Cup matches, will rely on someone with an intimate knowledge of France on Tuesday: former France striker and current Belgium assistant coach Thierry Henry.

It will be interesting to see who Roberto Martinez picks as his replacement.

Now it is his job to help halt the run of his home nation. "But tomorrow, on a professional level, he will be putting all the passion that drives him into the Belgian team".

There is then the midfield contest between Pogba and Kevin De Bruyne, who plays for United's city rivals Manchester City. While Hazard and De Bruyne will largely have free roles in the final third, Lukaku will look to stretch the defensive line in order to create space for his attacking partners to exploit and possibly find scoring opportunities. "Of course, it is a hard situation, it really is not easy for him", said Deschamps. On Tuesday, the count will be whittled down to three when two heavyweights of the game clash in Saint Petersburg.

On Giroud facing Courtois, Zouma added: "I played against him a few times and he is a good player, he is holding the ball very well and he is fighting for every ball".

Jeremy Hunt replaces Boris Johnson as foreign secretary
In her statement Prime Minister vowed to deliver "a Brexit that is in our national interest, the right Brexit deal for Britain". Writing on Twitter, he added: "Huge honour to be appointed Foreign Secretary at this critical moment in our country's history".

Belgium will be coming into the match after rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat Japan 3-2, followed up by a quality performance in beating Brazil 2-1 in the quarterfinals on Friday.

They also lost the 2006 final to Italy on penalties, though experience won't be a factor given that not a single player left in the tournament has ever reached the showpiece before.

While many England fans are surprised by the unheralded team´s progress, midfielder Dele Alli says the squad always believed they could go far.

"Of course I would prefer it if he were with us and he were giving me his advice, but we mustn't be jealous", said Giroud. "We have to do everything we can to take it". Harry Maguire's brilliant aerial performances so far this tournament, culminating in him winning 22 headers against Sweden and Colombia, would suggest Jordan Pickford's goal won't be regularly troubled.

Antoine Griezmann, whose bagged three goals at this tournament, joins Lukaku, Mbappe and Hazard in a ultra-attacking formation.

Croatia can count on Real Madrid´s midfield talisman Luka Modric, named man of the match three times in Russian Federation, but his teammate Andrej Kramaric says England´s lack of superstars is what makes them a cohesive unit.

France, world champions in 1998, are slight favourites to go through according to most bookmakers, but Belgium tend to step up their game against these particular European rivals, if history is anything to go by.

Since Le Bleus' title success at the 1998 World Cup on home soil, Le Bleus are yet to have their hands on the title, though they came close at the 2006 edition but missed out in a dramatic penalty shootout against eventual victor Italy.

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