Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

A guide to semi-finals

A guide to semi-finals

When it was suggested to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez that Kante could effectively shut down club-mate Hazard, he insisted his side's approach would lie in their collective strength as they look to reach a first World Cup final. Romelu Lukaku is the powerhouse, who has class for company in Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne. Martinez got his tactics spot on, dishing out a masterclass in counter-attacking football, winning the match 2-1.

World Cup favourites France are targeting the final in Russian Federation two decades after their 1998 triumph with one of their greatest players, Thierry Henry, plotting their downfall from the dugout of opponents Belgium. Henry may have a confined role, but he is part of an admired coaching team, led by Martinez, who have been tactically dynamic in the tournament, sometimes in adversity, as when substitutions rescued a 2-0 deficit against Japan; sometimes very proactively, when some radical changes, in formation and deployment of key players, underpinned a famous victory, against Brazil in the last eight.

"He is going to be on the bench facing his home nation but he always knew it could happen. But tomorrow, on a professional level, he will be putting all the passion that drives him into the Belgian team".

Lloris said: "The Belgium team is the most complete in the tournament".

"He's become a star in France but when I was playing against him for City against Monaco he'd only played 10 matches", he started. This allowed De Bruyne to dominate the number ten zone (by dropping into it, rather than hover there, which is easier to mark) and Lukaku to arc into the centre-forward spaces left when De Bruyne vacated (and pulled centre-backs with him). The match kicks-off at 20:00 hrs (BST) at Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg.

Just four teams remain, all of them from Europe: Belgium, France, Croatia, and England.

Belgium has the edge as it has won 30 of the 73 matches between the two sides, compared with 24 for France.

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The French then showed their steel in the 2-0 disposal of Luis Suarez and Uruguay in the quarter-finals.

Both sides have overcome impressive opponents in Russian Federation so far, but who has the edge to take them all the way to the final?

"He's brought something we didn't have", said Spanish coach Martinez. I will make sure that my players are ready to play in different shapes and systems, which we alter mid-match.

- Why has World Cup been full of surprises? Both play in England's Premier League and have come up against each other before.

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

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.

"I think England will win it because I've watched Croatia closely since the start - once they won their first mach I was thinking to myself "this is a really, really good team".

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