Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sports | By Johanna Francis

France beat Belgium to make World Cup final

France beat Belgium to make World Cup final

France captain and keeper Hugo Lloris, who played for two seasons with Henry in the national team, said: "He is a huge player and a great gentleman of French football".

The meeting between France and Belgium in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup will be a special occasion for Eden Hazard, who will face his adopted country when he leads the Red Devils out at the Krestovsky Stadium on Tuesday. Belgium, on the other hand, are trying to make history. In 2006, they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Italy in a World Cup final that was overshadowed by Zidane headbutting opposing player Marco Materazzi in the chest in extra time.

The golden generation of Belgium is trying to win their maiden global title, to set a benchmark for its teams of the future to be compared to.

But the worrying factor for whoever wins Wednesday's game in Moscow is that France still look to have another gear to move into. Therefore, we could easily witness more than 2.5 goals scored. We need to rise to challenge and keep doing what we've been doing.

There were concerns when Kylian Mbappe did not train while N'Golo Kante and PAvard trained separately.

Martinez replicated his tactic at Everton of deploying Romelu Lukaku as a right-winger against the adventurous Marcelo, leaving the Manchester United forward to torment Miranda and kickstart a plethora of counter-attacks. 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.

Now France's head coach, Deschamps admits it will be "strange" to see Henry in the opposite dugout. He has a specific job on the Belgium coaching staff, to coach the attacking players and counsel on strategies; it is part-time role, outside his broadcasting work in English television, and his rank in the Belgian staff hierarchy is well beneath that of manager Roberto Martinez.

Thierry Henry was also part of that victorious France squad in 1998.

ST PETERSBURG: France's Antoine Griezmann (front) and team-mates practise on Monday at the St Petersburg Stadium.

Deschamps has the "win-at-all-costs" mentality and it's evident in his six years in-charge of France.

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"He is lucky to be with a team with a fine generation of players".

Martinez, on the other hand, is a coach who lays emphasis to handsome, attacking football. He is more proactive than reactive.

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

Not only did this change help in pressurising the duo of Fernandinho and Paulinho, but it also gave playmaker Kevin De Bruyne the platform to take risks and put himself in advanced positions.

In typical Martinez style, Belgium's ultra-fluid attacking lines make them wide-open defensively, a situation that isn't helped by the presence of Alex Witsel at the base of midfield and Vincent Kompany in defence.

"It might be a bit hard for him but he's working for Belgium now, he wants us to win".

Otherwise, there was respect and admiration in equal measure.

"Belgium are in a forward gear", said Deschamps. "They do it well, they do it fast".

France keeper Hugo Lloris, a Golden Glove candidate in Russian Federation, had nothing but positive things to say about the Belgium squad. "They are a fantastic team".

Many of Belgium and France's players have played against or with each other in the Premier League. And if he does that, it will be a moment to savour for one of the most-vilified footballers in the modern game. "There is a lot of respect between us". "France is a big test for us". How deep, or advanced, will Kevin de Bruyne play? I'm not thinking much about what will happen.

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