Chances Galore as France, Belgium Look to Break Deadlock

11 Juillet, 2018, 01:32 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Belgium’s players kept their eyes on the ball in training yesterday

Fellaini flashed a header just wide and Axel Witsel forced a good save out of Lloris as Belgium pushed forward for an equaliser and France hung on in six minutes of stoppage time to book their place in the final.

Belgium started as underdogs against a defensively organised and offensively clinical Brazil. They know how to attack well.

Roberto Martinez devised a ideal plan to achieve these goals.

Belgium will be coming into the match after rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat Japan 3-2, followed up by a quality performance in beating Brazil 2-1 in the quarterfinals on Friday. No player in either side has taken more shots on target for either side than this duo (both on five), while Eden Hazard is the only player to take more touches in the opponents' penalty areas.

Fullback Thomas Meunier is suspended after picking up a second yellow card of the tournament against Brazil, with Martinez likely to bring in Yannick Carrasco in his place.

France have no such selection issues and are nearly certain to stick with Stuttgart's Benjamin Pavard at right back after a string of impressive displays from the 22-year-old have made him one of the tournament's stand-out defenders.

At the final whistle, the France bench erupted onto the field and the players broke into dance.

Against an on-fire Kylian Mbappe, Hazard might be required to put another defensive shift in.

Giroud said Henry could coach France in the future and that working with Belgium would help the 40-year-old gain experience in his new career as a coach. He has a specific job on the Belgium coaching staff, to coach the attacking players and counsel on strategies; it is part-time role, outside his broadcasting work in English television, and his rank in the Belgian staff hierarchy is well beneath that of manager Roberto Martinez.

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The precocious talent of the young Hazard did not pass unnoticed at Clairefontaine, the France Football Federation's elite forming school, and overtures were made to try and persuade him to represent his adopted country.

One change they can consider making is the reinstatement of Mertens for Chadli.

And both former players gushed over Mbappe's skills.

To get the Spanish broadcasts, you can stream World Cup games in any browser at TelemundoDeportes.com, or with the Telemundo Deportes En Vivo or NBC Sports apps.

But here's one thing Deschamps can be sure of: if Lukaku has a one-on-one duel with the French goalkeeper, and pauses just before the final shot, or if Eden Hazard cuts in from the left and curls his shot across Hugo Lloris, each of them will have taken expert advice on how to finesse those manoeuvres from one Thierry Henry, French legend.

It seems as though those flaws have been ironed out going by the 4-3 and 2-0 victories France inflicted over Argentina and Uruguay.

They will now aim to stop Lukaku adding to his tally of four goals in the tournament.

With the starting XI more or less picking itself, the only dilemma in Deschamps' mind would be the left midfield position. France welcome back midfielder Blaise Matuidi after suspension. They will need to be at their very best defensively against the Belgians, and look to Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann to get the better of the opposition defence.

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