The First World Cup semi-final is an incredibly even match-up between two teams with similar styles of play. Both France and Belgium play a fast attacking style of football in the final third of the pitch and both teams have quality midfielders with a physical presence, who have made it difficult for opposing teams to get into a rhythm offensively. The connections between both teams do not end there. Thierry Henry, arguably the greatest French striker of his generation is Belgium Manager Roberto Martinez's number one assistant manager. Henry has taken Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku under his wing and Lukaku has blossomed into a world class striker this tournament. Many in the French camp regret that Henry wasn't a part of their team.
France's strikers have proven to be exceptional in their own right. Antoine Griezmann tested Uruguayan goal keeper Fernando Muslera with a shot from distance that exposed his deficiencies and sealed the 2-0 victory. France's midfield will need to be on top form and all eyes will be on Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kanté to see if they can control possession and create chances for Kylian Mbappé to use his pace and threaten Belgian Goal Keep Thiabault Courtois. Mbappé was held out of practice, presumably as a precautionary measure to heal up on a knock that he took versus Uruguay. He should be ready to go in the semi-final.
Eden Hazard ran rings around the Brazilian defence. His ability to shift gears and change directions will is a key factor that spurs the Belgian attack. He will face a much stronger defensive challenge in Rafael Varane, who is the anchor of France's defence. With his passing and field vision, Kevin De Bruyne has cemented his reputation as one of the top playmakers in the world. His blistering goal versus Brazil will cause many to take note of his ability to find the back of the net.
Both teams strengths cancel each other out and their performances in the Quarterfinals were almost a mirror of one another. Against Brazil, Belgium had 4 shots on target, won 4 corners and tallied 14 fouls. Against Uruguay, France had 3 shots on target, won 3 corners and tallied 15 fouls. Look for this to be a physical match, with neither team giving an inch. It could very well come down to which team has more attempts and is able to test the opposing goal keeper.
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