Preview - France vs Belgium 11 July 18

Started by Harry85, Jul 09, 2018, 08:21 PM

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World Cup Semi Finals
France vs Belgium
Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
03:00am, (GMT +8 Timing)
Stadium: Saint Petersburg Stadium

Last five matches form: W W D W W
Average goals per match last ten: 2.00
Average goals against per match last ten: 1.00
Top Scorer: Olivier Giroud (31)

Last five matches form: W W W W W
Average goals per match last ten: 2.60
Average goals against per match last ten: 0.70
Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku (40)

We are now reaching boiling point at the World Cup Finals, with only four sides left in the hunt. All four hail from Europe and the first of those two meet in Saint Petersburg in a real clash of the heavyweights.

France hold the edge in the 19 previous meetings between the sides, with eight wins to Belgium's five, in addition to six draws. Belgium did win the most recent game though, coming out on top 4-3 in a 2015 friendly.

The most significant injury blow comes for Belgium who will be without first choice right-back Thomas Meunier through suspension. Djibril Sidibe is the main doubt for France.

The general consensus seems to be that France are favourites to qualify from this one, and whilst their isn't much in it, it's difficult to see why that should be the case. Belgium have scored more and conceded less than France in their past ten games, are four places higher in the FIFA World rankings and have already knocked out pre-tournament favourites Brazil.

This has all the makings of a real cracker, with neither side being ideally set up to defend. The absence of Meunier does pose a question, but Belgium restricted Brazil to just one goal in the quarters and will be confident of achieving a similar outcome here. France had no trouble keeping a powder puff Uruguay out last time but will likely find this rampaging Belgian outfit far tougher to handle. It's Belgium to reach the World Cup Final for the first time in their history for us.

Prediction: France 1 - 3 Belgium


Half time: 0 - 0
Full time: 1 - 0
Shots: 14 - 8
Shots on target: 6 - 3
Corner Kicks: 4 - 5
Possession: 36% - 64%

Five bookings in this one with N'Golo Kante and Kylian Mbappé seeing yellow for France and Belgium's Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen also having their names taken by referee Andres Cunha.

This was the very definition of a tight World Cup semi-final encounter with their being very little between the sides on the night. France probably did just about deserve it though. Whilst they were behind in possession, they were comfortably clear on the shot count.

It was really the French defence which won they day here though with Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti simply magnificent on the night. We hadn't been entirely convinced by the rear-guard of Les Bleu prior to this game, but its hard not to be impressed now.

It was Belgium who started much the brighter of the two sides, bossing possession for the first thirty minutes of the game. Eden Hazard in particular causing all manner of problems, particularly down the left hand side. It was he who had one of the best opportunities of the first 45, cutting inside to fire on goal but seeing Varane - well positioned as ever - flick his effort over the bar. Not long after that Belgium went close again. Toby Alderweireld this time firing in an effort following a corner that produced a world class save from Hugo Lloris.

The French slowly began to make their presence felt and finished the first half on the front foot. Benjamin Pavard forcing Thibaut Courtois into a smart stop of his own when played in by Mbappé. 0-0 at the break though.

It didn't take long for the deadlock to be broken in second half, and it was Didier Deschamps men who grabbed that all important opening goal. You don't often see Marouane Fellaini beaten in the air, but he was in the 51st minute when Samuel Umtiti got up to meet an Antoine Griezman corner at the near post. No Chance for Courtois as the Barceolona man powered his header in from close range.

The remainder of the game belonged to Kylian Mbappé, who's speed, skill and nerve were once again displayed to scintillating effect. France were unable to capitalise on the 19 year olds excellent work, but in the end one goal was enough as Belgium huffed and puffed but couldn't blow the French defence down.

France through to the World Cup final for the third time in their history then, where they will likely prove very tough to beat if able to replicate this display.

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