France vs Belgium (July 10, 2018 7:00pm)
We’re down to four in Russia and just two of the pre-tournament favorites are left, ironically, the two square up for a place to face either of Croatia and England in the final on Sunday the 15th. France have gotten to the finals a couple of times but they have only been successful just once, that was in 1998 on home soil, twenty years ago, their most recent attempt at glory came in the 2006 edition which was famous for the Zinedine Zidane head butt on Marco Materazzi, they have since labored in vain and haven’t passed the quarter finals, they did make it to the Euro championship final, again on home soil but Portugal had other ideas.
Belgium have been underachievers for a very long time, talented and full of positives but they hardly sparkle when it matters most. Belgium’s highest achievement at the World Cup was a quarter final berth a very long time ago but they have the chance to take it an inch further here and actually go for glory as it is easy on paper considering the quality of opposition they will face if they do get to the final.
France finished from group C with 7 points, two above Denmark and went on to entertain the world by unleashing Kylian Mbappe on Argentina; the teenage sensation mesmerized the Argentines with pace and trickery, his finish was intelligent and his place in the history books of the FIFA World Cup was sealed in gold letterings. It wasn’t difficult as presumed for France against Uruguay, just the basics and they’re here, it would be noted that they have goals in every department, from defense to attack, everyone can score, that is a plus to any team that has glory in sights.
Belgium finished on a high, maximum points in the group that had England and they made history by coming from two goals down to dismiss Japan in the second round to win 3:2 with the last kick of the game, that victory epitomized the instincts of Roberto Martinez whose substitutions both got on the score sheet to make it possible; clinically they dispatched Brazil, Kevin De Bryune was the tormentor in chief on the day and he should be ready for another, if not bigger challenge.
In midfield this battle is even, they both have attacks that can give sleepless night to any team and both in good shape for this encounter. Blaise Matuidi is back after sitting out the quarter final on suspension, depending on how the two managers opt to approach this, there’s no way it won’t be full of goals, Dries Mertens should come in for Belgium, if Deschamps decides to go with Giroud upfront, that means Ousman Dembele would be out again, Belgium will have only Kante to deal with of course except Paul Pogba decides to come to the party.
Provisional starting eleven
Lloris, Pavard, Hernandez, Umtiti, Varane, Pogba, Kante, Griezmann, Matuidi, Mbappe Giroud
Courtois, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Kompany, Mertens, Carrasco, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bryune, Hazard, Lukaku
Verdict: Both teams to score, France to advance
Feature Image: Metro UK