France outplay Belgium for a World Cup final place

Postado Julho 11, 2018

"But we're not thinking about it too much, we're going to be focused on the pitch and our game". The match kicks-off at 20:00 hrs (BST) at Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg.

Six minutes of injury time provided Belgium with hope but France ran the clock down and nearly made it 2-0 as Griezmann and then Corentin Tolisso's shots were well saved by Courtois. These two historic nations were Les Bleus' opponents during the Round of 16 and the quarter-finals, respectively, but Didier Deschamps' men brushed them aside with relative ease.

The first yellow card of the game was issued to Belgium's Eden Hazard, who pulls Matuidi to ground to prevent a France counter-attack and shortly following was Alderweireld who picked up Belgium's second booking.

"(With) social media and everything else, the global thing is so much bigger". France will need to show their maturity here.

"It's been two years to try and understand these footballers, the human beings behind the footballers, and to try and get a group that shared the same ambition, not just to use the national team to improve their brand", Belgian manager Roberto Martinez said in a news conference, via Reuters.

The world now gets to see France's luxury squad, collectively valued in excess of $1 billion and headlined by teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, in another major final. Samuel Umtiti was that difference today. The FC Barcelona centre-back has a knee injury, and his availability will depend on a fitness test closer to kick-off.

Following that incident, the wind quickly dissipated from Belgium's sails as both Giroud and Griezmann had a pair of threatening shots on Courtois in the final minutes.

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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. Will Belgium be up to the challenge?

Belgium is now ranked No. 3 in the world by Federation Internationale de Football Association, while France is ranked No. 7. True, the France team that won the World Cup in 1998 with Deschamps as its captain was considerably older. The right-back's shot across the goal was met with an instinctive save with the right foot by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Friends and foes at the same time? An interesting switch from Martinez could involve Belgium stopping Paul Pogba and Kante, their deepest lying midfielders.

Belgium was left still clinging to the elusive ambition of reaching a first World Cup final. His two goals against La Albiceleste had the BBC making Pele comparisons.

Belgium, the tournament's top scorers, have not reached this stage since 1986 when they finished fourth. That was a breakthrough for France with the clock reading 51 minutes.

Both sides know what is like to turn results around during the current World Cup campaign.

France was relentless on the attack in its 4-3 win against Argentina, but it has now revealed a grit in wins against Uruguay and Belgium that many were not sure existed.