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

France vs Belgium: A 'Final Quality' Match

France vs Belgium: A 'Final Quality' Match

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. "At the time, there wasn't the jersey of Belgium, that's why we wore the one of France".

"Because of the seven years I spent in France I feel 99 percent Belgian and one percent French, but the idea of taking French nationality never crossed my mind" Hazard once said when asked about the possibility. It's like a voyage to the moon: "We need to face it full of illusions".

However, their backline will face its biggest test yet against a Belgian team that are top scorers at Russian Federation 2018 with 14 goals in their five games, with the strikes coming from nine different players - a record in diversity shared with the French team of 1982 and Italian side of 2006.

At set pieces, French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who plays for Spurs, will be wary of the aerial threat posed by club teammates and Belgium defenders Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Eden Hazard isn't shabby either.

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.

The promise of Kylian Mbappe has delivered with three goals while replacement fullbacks, Theo Hernandez and Benjamin Parvard have cemented their place in the starting XI.

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. With the array of talent on display in Didier Deschamps' team, expectations had been high that France would arrive in Russian Federation and treat us to a display of dazzling Francophone soccer, courtesy of decorated stars like Griezmann, Pogba, Giroud, and Mbappe'. "However, during the match, there will be no friendship".

Belgium struggled against Japan when defending quick and mobile players.

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Deschamps and Belgium coach Roberto Martinez will have a tactical duel on the sidelines of the pitch.

ST PETERSBURG: France's Antoine Griezmann (front) and team-mates practise on Monday at the St Petersburg Stadium. There isn't a philosophy to the French play, their style of play derived from the personnel they have. He scored the most goals, is second in terms of number of caps.

Martinez, on the other hand, is a coach who lays emphasis to handsome, attacking football.

"We know we have some unbelievable players and a great manager and everyone is clear on what we want to do". "For him tomorrow it could be a bit hard, but he works for Belgium now, he wants us to win".

Otherwise, there was respect and admiration in equal measure. Probably. Their team is geared forward. "They do it well, they do it fast". Belgium disappeared from the forefront of the worldwide scene for years before emerging once more with their current gifted crop.

"With my brothers, we have always been more supporters of France than Belgium because we grew up with '98", said the Chelsea man, who hails from the French-speaking area of Belgium. 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. We immensely respect the quality of France.

"There are similarities between the two players [Mbappe and Hazard], they're both geniuses. France is a big test for us". But here's the thing: against Brazil, Martinez knew he would have to defend. The two European heavyweights are filled with young talent and have been playing some of the best football we have witnessed at this World Cup.

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