France edges Belgium to reach World Cup final

Tanya Simon
July 11, 2018

There was still time for Umtiti to miskick and nearly let in Romelu Lukaku, but somehow the teams went into the break tied at 0-0.

France coach Didier Deschamps has faced some criticism for being too pragmatic and functional despite having so many stars in his squad, but the organization of the team was superb and Belgium was largely restricted to only minor chances as time wound down.

Roberto Martinez has plenty of attacking options with Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku all expected to start, and they will cause the French defence problems. Giroud keeps his place in a forward line featuring 19-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.

Maybe Belgium will have a trick up their sleeves against their European rivals?

Beaten finalists at Euro 2016 on home soil, France will aim to go one better in Russian Federation and emulate the successful squad of 1998 which included Didier Deschamps, who could emulate Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer by winning the World Cup as both a player and manager.

"I can not tell you everything, because we might apply the same plan against France". However, Deschamps confidently said that everyone would be available for the semi-final.

"That happened what we could expect - one goal would win it, and one goal would create some reaction and that happened", two-time Champions League victor Mourinho said. "Thierry Henry brings that". Unless Pogba is told to sit deep (he won't) or Blaise Matuidi can get all the way across from the left to help out (also unlikely) then Belgium will do serious damage. For Belgium, their thrilling runs ends in the last four but they still have a third-place play-off to settle.

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"Quite simply, I think Belgium is the most complete side in the tournament, in all aspects of the game".

Sports Illustrated: "Calling this one is immensely hard".

The team has yet to make a mark on a major tournament, but beating Brazil to reach the semi-finals will have instilled belief they can win the biggest prize of all.

"We're going to the final, we're going to the final", scores chanted in one central Paris bar before breaking out into an impromptu rendition of the La Marseillaise national anthem.

A goal scored on a header early in the second half by Samuel Umtiti, combined with a brilliant defensive performance was enough to carry France past Belgium 1-0 in Tuesday's semifinal in Saint Petersburg. Spanish-language Telemundo just posted its best-ever Friday daytime audience in network history with its quarterfinal broadcasts and has matched that feat on two other weekdays during this tournament, which kicked off June 14.

"Finals have to be won because we have still not got over the one we lost two years ago", he added. From a corner, the defender beat Belgium's Marouane Fellaini to the ball and expertly angled it into the back of the net with the side of his head for what would be the game's only goal.

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