FIREWORKS EXPECTED IN SAINT PETERSBURG

France face Belgium in what promises to be a thrilling World Cup semi-final showdown on Tuesday night.

Besides, the first of the two semi-finals sees France, who last won the tournament on home soil in 1998, face off against a golden generation of Belgian players who are already guaranteed to equal their best ever World Cup performance.

The last and only time Belgium made it to the semi-finals came in Mexico in 1986, where they were eliminated by Argentina before losing to none other than France in the third place playoff.

Things have changed an awful lot in the 32 years since then. In fact, the majority of both teams’ starting line-up have been born, raised, and progress to the pinnacle of the sport.

France possess one of the most potent attacking forces on the planet, but they face a Belgium side filled to the brim with their golden generation of talent.

It’s Belgium who have looked the better side so far this summer. They were poor in the second half of their quarter final against Brazil, but the first half saw them go 2-0 up against the footballing powerhouse.

They showed real determination to come back from 2-0 down against Japan in the last 16, and won all three of their group stage clashes.

France deservedly beat Uruguay without Edinson Cavani on Friday, but in all honesty it could have gone either way after a flurry of missed chances in the opening stages.

Their 4-3 win against Argentina was a thrilling encounter, but once again highlighted some major potential issues in their back line.

And while Belgium were at times scintillating in the group stages, France were lucky to beat Australia and Peru and played out a dreadfully dull draw against Denmark.

One thing we can expect is goals though. France’s seven-goal thriller against Argentina highlighted Didier Deschamps’ glaring problem, and while they did keep a clean sheet against Uruguay they could have conceded three or four if the South Americans had taken their chances.

Belgium are similarly troubled at the back, conceding five goals so far but upfront they have been very impressive so far seeing a total of 19 goals in their five matches so far. Besides, their counter attacking ability tore Brazil to shreds in the quarter-finals.

They have won seven matches on the bounce now and are unbeaten since Roberto Martinez’ first match in charge almost two years ago.

Romelu Lukaku may have failed to find the net against Brazil, but he was undoubtedly one of the star players that evening.

He dropped deeper to help his teammates out and his pace and power is likely to cause the France back line some serious problems.

Besides, the Manchester United striker has scored four goals in his four World Cup games this tournament.
 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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