"Now I study him!" - How Mbappe's talent turned the tables on Hazard

10 Juillet, 2018, 14:01 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • France's forward Olivier Giroud reacts as he arrives for a press conference at the press centre in Istra west of Moscow

Prediction: "France 2-1 Belgium".

World Cup favourites France are targeting the final in Russian Federation two decades after their 1998 triumph with one of their greatest players, Thierry Henry, plotting their downfall from the dugout of opponents Belgium.

France captain and keeper Hugo Lloris, who played for two seasons with Henry in the national team, said: "He is a huge player and a great gentleman of French football".

But while Henry remains a France icon and his nation's record goalscorer, he is now plotting their downfall as assistant coach to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez. "But tomorrow, on a professional level, he will be putting all the passion that drives him into the Belgian team".

Unlike Belgium, Les Bleus have the experience of playing on the big stage-this is the team's third semifinal of a major tournament in 12 years-and it continues to resemble a team still not playing at its full potential.

"There will be players who will have their club team-mates on the opposite side", France coach Didier Deschamps said at the pre-match press conference on Monday. Of course, it is a hard situation, it really is not easy for him.

The game will take place at the 64,500-seater St. Petersburg Stadium on Wednesday morning (AEST).

Tracking back or defending for his life has never been Hazard's forte, the always-smiling Belgian instead showcasing his enthusiasm for the game with a vibrant style of play, but his second-half display against Brazil proved that unlike circa-2014, this Hazard is much more circumspect and understands only panache can not win you cups, resilience is equally significant.

Eden Hazard has been one of the best players at the tournament and stands out in a side crammed with world-class talent.

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Belgium's foray into the last four of a World Cup was a long-time coming, the country's golden generation of footballers hoping to improve upon their Maradona-orchestrated semi-final loss 32 years ago. France finished first in Group C and then went on to beat Argentina (4-3) and Uruguay (2-0) to reach the semifinals.

"We're not scared of anyone, " Pavard said.

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet told AFP pointedly that "we've rather lost sight of him and he has little contact with the federation".

Striker Olivier Giroud will keep his starting spot despite not registering a shot on target at this World Cup.

"We have a lot of respect for what he's done, but we're not going to think about very much".

Previously, as a TV pundit, Henry suggested that Giroud was not good enough, saying in 2015 that Arsenal could not win the English Premier League with him in attack and needed "a top, top-quality striker".

Top stat: Lukaku has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 13 games for Belgium in all competitions - three assists and a whopping 17 goals. The manager is the one who will do the talking, I will try to make the team better.

Croatia´s midfielder Luka Modric celebrates scoring his penalty during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Russian Federation and Croatia at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on July 7, 2018.

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