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History beckons as France take on Belgium
10 July 2018, 08:52 | Henrietta Morgan
Giroud in action for France. Image PA
Fox Sport Asia: "This should be a very intriguing match-up given the depth of talent that these two teams have". Who will come out on top? Andres Cunha (Uruguay) will be the referee.
As World Cup fever builds at home, England are avoiding the hype as the coach Gareth Southgate prepares his team in their tranquil base near Saint Petersburg for their first semi-final since 1990.
Mbappe was lethal in France's 4-3 Round of 16 win over Argentina, using his pace to devastating effect, but Martinez said his side would not make the mistake of focusing exclusively on one player. However, things will be far more complicated for France this time around.
"Our trainings sessions are filmed by a drone after we took an extra video analyst to Russian Federation".
An overly defensive approach against France may not bear fruition, as Uruguay's performance in the quarters showed and therefore, Belgium will have to look for kinks in an otherwise solid armour.
Reached by phone, a bar owner in French Comines said the atmosphere in the town was convivial ahead of the game.
It feels faintly absurd to favourably compare a midfield diamond featuring Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli with France's but the goal of that set-up is to get the best from their more accomplished players.
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It's going to be a thrilling match no doubt and don't be surprised if this one ends up going the full distance. The FC Barcelona centre-back has a knee injury, and his availability will depend on a fitness test closer to kick-off.
Will Belgium's golden generation finally produce, or will Les Bleus make amends for what happened at the 2016 Euros?
However, the two sides have met 2 times before at the World Cup and both the games were won by France. Will Belgium be up to the challenge?
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. If they play at their best and similar to what they did against Brazil, then Belium have a decent chance of reaching the country's first FIFA World Cup final in the nation's history. The PSG right-back received his second yellow card against Brazil.
Friends and foes at the same time? Witsel and Marouane Fellaini aren't adept at stopping quick interchanges, and so the thought of Olivier Giroud's excellent lay-offs, Griezmann's brilliant space-creating passes, and Mbappe's speed should terrify Belgian fans.
"We can not follow the path of another Belgian generation who won a World Cup".
The game will feature plenty of talented attackers and has the potential to be one of the most exciting games of the competition.
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"They have not conceded goals and struggled to come back".
Three of the last four meetings between the sides have produced under 2.5 goals in total.
France have only been improving over the course of their World Cup campaign. Much was made of Roberto Martinez's decision to start Romelu Lukaku from the right and Kevin De Bruyne through the middle in Belgium's 2-1 win over Brazil, not to mention Thibaut Courtois' exceptional goalkeeping outing, yet the tactical decision and the display between the sticks overshadowed a stunning outing from skipper Eden Hazard.
It was a back and forth match, demonstrating the fact that third place playoffs tend to be very open affairs where both side's throw caution to the wind with very little to lose. "We've been confident from the start and we're not asking any questions of ourselves". The attacker has been crucial to Belgium's run to the semi-finals, providing two goals and two assists for his side.
Wednesday represents a date with destiny, and Martinez plans to attend with the same mantra that once helped him and his players to numerous against-the-odds wins for Wigan in the Premier League: "No fear".
At the helm for almost six years, a fundamental flaw of the French under his reign has been the inability to score goals in crucial knockout games.
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