France vs Belgium: French supporters are confident

10 July, 2018, 23:31 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
  • England World Cup semi-final

While World Cup fever builds at home, England are avoiding the hype as Gareth Southgate prepares his team in their tranquil base near Saint Petersburg for their first semi-final since 1990. That was the last competitive match between the two countries but there have been eight worldwide friendlies since.

The French have had the Belgians number on the three times they have met in major tournaments.

'He is our missing piece, ' said Martinez on Monday. "We've been confident from the start and we're not asking any questions of ourselves".

Coach Didier Deschamps, who was captain when France won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship, has instilled a steely mentality.

"He motivates the troops with strong words", Pavard said. We know there are going to be hard moments, and we'll have to be ready to suffer. It signalled the blossoming of the defensive duo of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti, who had managed to keep Luis Suarez and co at bay with rock-solid display at the back. The pair, both 22, have only 20 global appearances between them but are playing with good composure.

Handed the armband by Roberto Martinez despite Vincent Kompany's return from injury, the Spaniard has drawn out Hazard's leadership qualities. Belgium came from behind to beat Japan 3-2 in the Round of 16 and then outlasted Brazil in the Quarterfinals on Friday to advance to this stage. "At the time, there wasn't the jersey of Belgium, that's why we wore the one of France".

Belgium threw everything they could muster at the French but were unable to really test Lloris, aside from one speculative long range effort from Axel Witsel.

"Kevin De Bruyne is a modern playmaker in the fact that he goes even quicker than what you can see, " Martinez said.

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Martinez's tactics have stood out, too.

Since Le Bleus' title success at the 1998 World Cup on home soil, Le Bleus are yet to have their hands on the title, though they came close at the 2006 edition but missed out in a dramatic penalty shootout against eventual victor Italy. Marouane Fellaini, who has oft-partnered Pogba in the United midfield, will now be looking to stop the powerful Frenchman. The likes of Eden Hazard, Toby Alderweireld and Kevin De Bruyne are all regarded as near the best in the world in their respective positions.

"Quite simply, I think Belgium is the most complete side in the tournament, in all aspects of the game. He is there to learn", Giroud said. "The best is Hugo". That's really anxious me for Belgium because they were exposed by Japan. The PSG right-back received his second yellow card against Brazil.

Belgium enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening exchanges and almost drew first blood in the 15th minute when Eden Hazard flashed his shot across goal after Kevin de Bruyne's inventive flick had presented the Chelsea winger with a sight of goal. Because of his quick feet, change of direction and exquisite close control, he is hard to tackle and this often draws a foul. While France may not have set the world alight, the former Marseille manager's team have conceded a mere four goals in five matches.

ST PETERSBURG: France's Antoine Griezmann (front) and team-mates practise on Monday at the St Petersburg Stadium. "I pity him", he said. "It's my unselfish side".

Veteran striker Olivier Giroud hasn't scored yet in the tournament but needs one goal to move ahead of Zinedine Zidane into outright fourth spot on France's all-time list. They are tied on fourth overall with 31.

In six seasons in England, Hazard has won two more league titles and won plenty of admirers. Henry did not play in the 3-0 final victory for Les Bleus over Brazil.

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