France v Belgium: World Cup semi-final, European battle of world stars
|2018 Fifa World Cup semi-final: France v Belgium|
|Venue: St Petersburg Date: Tuesday, 10 July, 19:00 BST|
|Protection: Reside on BBC One, full radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 dwell and textual content commentary on-line and in BBC Sport app|
It has been billed because the “derby between buddies”.
Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final pits 1998 winners France towards the ‘golden technology’ from neighbours Belgium.
Each groups had been among the many pre-tournament favourites, however just one can attain Sunday’s remaining in Moscow.
Victory would arrange a showpiece towards Croatia or England – who meet on Wednesday – however who will progress?
BBC Sport takes a take a look at an enchanting battle each on and off the pitch.
A conflict of types?
In gamers corresponding to Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba, these sides boast a few of the world’s most devastating attacking gamers.
However their managers utilise the standard at their disposal in several methods.
France boss Didier Deschamps – who’s aiming to emulate Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer by successful the World Cup as each a participant and supervisor – has usually been criticised for failing to get essentially the most out of his squad.
Performance, quite than aptitude, has been the important thing to this point in Russia. They wanted a late personal objective of their opening match towards Australia, edged previous Peru 1-Zero of their second, then performed out a uninteresting goalless draw with Denmark.
They did impress in beating Argentina 4-Three within the final 16, however that sort of open recreation isn’t Deschamps’ model.
“If you’re on the lookout for 5-0, do not come to a World Cup, you will not get this,” he stated.
Whereas Deschamps has not at all times garnered optimistic headlines, Martinez’s spell as Belgium supervisor has been nearly flawless.
A shock appointment, taking the job three months after being sacked by Everton, he has had a big effect.
He has not tasted defeat in a aggressive recreation as Belgium boss, his final loss in a non-friendly match the Toffees’ 3-0 defeat by Sunderland in Could 2016.
Martinez has overseen a run of 19 wins and 5 attracts, culminating in a powerful 2-1 victory over Brazil within the quarter-finals.
Belgium’s haul of 14 objectives is essentially the most at this stage of a World Cup since 2002, when eventual winners Brazil had 15.
Talking after that recreation, former England captain Alan Shearer stated: “The massive query about Belgium was ‘are you a workforce of people or are you able to come collectively as a workforce?’ He has gelled them collectively.
“That has bought to come back from the supervisor. There’s a big distinction between the place they’re now and the place they had been two years in the past.”
Time to ship for ‘golden technology’
England know all about having a ‘golden generation’ of players.
Theirs didn’t win any worldwide silverware, however Belgium’s are on track to win the most important prize of all.
The Crimson Devils gained all of their video games within the group stage and got here from 2-Zero all the way down to beat Japan within the final 16 earlier than that very good quarter-final displaying towards the five-time champions.
They exited on the quarter-final stage of each the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship, so is time operating out for this proficient crop of gamers?
“It is crucial for everybody to know that Belgium has a inhabitants of 11 million and the present technology of gamers didn’t occur accidentally,” stated Martinez.
“There’s a very clear construction inside skilled soccer in Belgium. It’s a nation targeted on creating its younger expertise.
“We are able to solely be ourselves and we have already got time to make use of this World Cup as a bonus with the most recent generations.”
‘Weird’ state of affairs as Henry plots France’s downfall
Presumably essentially the most intriguing storyline of this semi-final comes off the pitch.
Thierry Henry was born close to Paris and scored 53 objectives in 123 appearances for France, successful the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.
However he’s now plotting his house nation’s downfall as assistant supervisor of Belgium.
“Thierry Henry is admittedly vital for us,” stated defender Toby Alderweireld. “He tells us tales from his taking part in days and so they encourage us.
“If he says one thing, it at all times seems to be one thing useful. His presence, his World Cup expertise, is all a really optimistic affect.”
Tuesday’s match pitches him towards a former team-mate in Deschamps. The pair had been by no means crushed within the 21 matches they performed collectively for France.
Deschamps stated: “It’s weird as a result of he’s French and might be on the opponents’ bench. However he’s somebody I actually respect and I’m blissful for him.”
Belgium midfielder De Bruyne is bound Henry “will need us to come back out on high” – however France full-back Lucas Hernandez thinks it’s a win-win state of affairs for the previous Arsenal and Barcelona ahead.
“All France is aware of him, what an amazing participant he was and what an icon for soccer,” stated Hernandez.
“But when we win, he will even be blissful as a result of he’s a Frenchman.”
‘A derby between buddies’
This assembly would be the first between bordering nations since 1986, when West Germany met France.
Belgium playmaker Hazard was born close to the French border, with Le Soir newspaper calling him “essentially the most French of all of the Belgians”. A photograph which has surfaced on social media seems to indicate Hazard and his brothers in France kits.
Le Soir describes this recreation as “a derby between buddies”, including: “This 74th derby between France and Belgium might be performed in an environment of a joyous neighbourhood get-together.”
Within the village of Warneton, which straddles the border, persons are struggling to choose a workforce to again.
“I feel we’ll help France, but additionally Belgium, a minimum of somewhat bit, as a result of they’re our mates,” one resident told France3. One other stated: “We’re blissful as a result of we help each, and what’s nice, is that one in all them will make it to the ultimate!”
Three key head-to-heads
Antoine Griezmann v Romelu Lukaku
One other event, one other during which Griezmann has shone for France. The Atletico Madrid ahead netted six occasions at Euro 2016 to win the Golden Boot as his workforce completed runners-up to Portugal.
This time he might be trying to go one step additional.
Griezmann has scored thrice to this point in Russia, one fewer than Lukaku. England’s Harry Kane leads the way in which with six.
Griezmann has scored seven objectives in his previous six knockout matches in main tournaments, whereas Lukaku has been immediately concerned in 20 objectives in his previous 13 video games for Belgium – 17 objectives and three assists.
Kylian Mbappe v Eden Hazard
Teenager Mbappe introduced himself on the world stage with a superb man-of-the-match efficiency in France’s 4-Three victory over Argentina.
The Paris St-Germain participant placed on a devastating attacking present – his lightning velocity and eager eye for objective serving to him rating twice and win a penalty.
Previous to that, his objective towards Peru made him – at 19 years and 183 days – the youngest participant to attain for France in a significant event.
Belgium captain Hazard, in the meantime, has already chipped in with two objectives and two assists.
Each gamers prefer to run with the ball, too. Of these left within the competitors, Mbappe (37) and Hazard (30) are the highest two gamers for dribbles tried.
“He apparently used to observe movies of me when he was youthful,” Hazard told RMC Sport. “Now, it is the opposite means round. I’ve quite a lot of respect for what he is achieved at his age.”
Paul Pogba v Kevin de Bruyne
The battle for midfield superiority – made in Manchester.
United’s Pogba and Metropolis’s De Bruyne might be trying to exert their authority in the midst of the park, setting the tempo for his or her aspect.
As their major statistics present, De Bruyne has created thrice as many possibilities as Pogba to this point, however the Frenchman is ready to win the ball again extra usually than his opponent.
|242 (78.1%)||Passes (accuracy)||216 (81.2%)|
Extra reporting by BBC Monitoring’s Laura Gozzi.