Hazard and rest of the Belgium squad train ahead of semi-final

Tanya Simon
July 9, 2018

With fellow Premier League stars Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku also thriving in Russia, Belgium will sense this is their chance to win a first World Cup, although right-back Thomas Meunier is out due to suspension.

Friday's 2-1 victory over Brazil in the quarter-finals followed a rousing come-from-behind win over the Japanese, where Belgium found themselves two goals behind with 30 minutes to play but won 3-2 in the round of 16.

France defender Lucas Hernandez insists the prospect of facing Eden Hazard holds no fears for him after he played a part in taming Lionel Messi earlier in the World Cup.

Varane and Romelu are certain to face each other barring any injuries and it could very much be that head to head battle that will decide the tie. "He always tries to help us win games". He shares his room with (Frenchman) Alexis (Vuillermoz) - one of them might end up with a black eye.

The winner of France and Belgium will take on the victor of the second semi-final between England and Croatia in next weekend's final. "You know, I have already said this", he said. There's still a sense that he could be doing more with the brilliant set of players at his disposal, France frequently a fairly stodgy team to watch, relying on moments of brilliance from Pogba, Mbappe or Griezmann. "If we win the World Cup and I don't score, that will not be a problem in the slightest!" he grins. The Atletico Madrid striker was the top scorer in the 2016 Euros, leading host France to the final (where it lost to Portugal in extra time).

But if some critics of France have been silenced by superb performances, it had been a different story in Belgium until recently.

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Chelsea star Eden Hazard may be known as a captain of a young exciting team christened "golden generation" in the World Cup tournament. We can't leave him any space because he's a quality player.

France, world champions in 1998, are slight favourites to go through according to most bookmakers, but Belgium tend to step up their game against these particular European rivals, if history is anything to go by.

I'd lean towards Belgium - they're [2.2] to qualify - if picking a victor but I'm happier to invest in goals both overall and individually. The Belgians are [2.18] to get to the World Cup final.

Paris Saint Germain forward Mbappe has scored three goals at the World Cup so far.

"Against Belgium we also have the players to make sure [Eden] Hazard touches the ball as little as possible".

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