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Belgium – France, Between Legend and History

The Belgians, who left Brazil on the road, will have a tough test against the Gauls. None of the three previous times that they faced in World Cups managed to win.

The bet is more than considerable for two teams that have survived the future of Russia 2018 and have reached the final boundary. It is not a new situation for any. But formidable for both of them by unusual.

Only one game, the one set at the St. Petersburg stadium on Tuesday, separates France from the reunion with history and Belgium from becoming a legendary team.

The bet is more than considerable for two teams that have survived the future of Russia 2018 and have reached the final boundary. It is not a new situation for any. But formidable for both of them by unusual.

France is one step away from being in the third final of a World Cup. One won it, in 1998, as host. The other lost it, in Germany 2006 against Italy.

Belgium will play a semifinal of a World Championship for the second time. It was not successful in the previous one, in Mexico 1986, when it was surpassed by Argentina. He finished fourth in the group then directed by Guy Thys and with famous players such as Jean-Marie Pfaff, Eric Gerets, Enzo Scifo, Jan Ceulemans or brothers Franky and Leo Van der Elst. He lost consolation, precisely, against France.

It has been thirty-two years for Belgium to meet again in a similar situation and approach the assault to an unknown place. A final for a world title.

It faces as a unique opportunity the Belgian selection the disposition in which it is. In the hands of one of the best generations of its history, in full maturity, it assumes with conviction the challenge. The coach, the Spanish Roberto Martinez, has had a lot to do with it, capable of harmonizing the talent and plaguing with confidence a magnificent group weighed down by the latest disappointments.

Belgium went through the first phase with authority. As the most scorer of the tournament, led in this regard by Romelu Lukaku. Attached by an offensive game system he went over Panama, Tunisia and also England. Three games and three victories.

The Red Devils also survived the most delicate moment. In the last 16 against Japan, who scored two goals with an agonizing victory of Nacir Chadli in the last play of the game. And they won the semifinal pass after leaving on the road to Brazil in what was an extra dose of self-esteem.

Thomas Meunier is the only casualty that Roberto Martinez has for the stake against France. The side of Paris Saint Germain must play a game of suspension for the yellow card he saw against the Brazilian side.

The rest is in conditions. Including Chadli, who can take the place of Meunier, and the attacker of the Real Sociedad Adnan Januzai, spare of the blow to the knee that suffered in the training prior to the clash against Japan.

Roberto Martínez will be faithful to his philosophy. Despite the substance of the opponent will not give up possession of the ball. He intends to take advantage of the Spanish coach the good time of Eden Hazard, one of the best of the tournament, and the recovery of Kevin de Bruyne, qualified as a midfielder in the clash against Brazil in the quarter and who rediscovered his best level.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Dries Mertens were sacrificed in the last game. The former Atlético Madrid player can return to the eleven benefited by the space left by Meunier’s absence.

The French team faces with optimism its semifinal match against Belgium. ‘Les Bleus’ have been the strongest team in the championship and the victories against two teams of great cache like Argentina and Uruguay at the crossings solidify them even more in their candidacy.

France led by Didier Deschamps has known, after an irregular group phase in the game but unblemished in the results (victories against Australia and Peru, draw against Denmark), adjust their conditions to what each match required depending on the rival.

Against Argentina took advantage of the slowness of the defense of the Albiceleste to throw players like Mbappé, who caused the penalty of the first goal and destroyed by the speed the South American squad when the Argentines drew the duel by the hand of Angel Di Maria.

Against Uruguay, they adopted a different facet. Faced with the physical exuberance of the Charrúas, they found their chance on the set piece with the goal of Raphael Varane and allied with the fortune of Fernando Muslera’s poor clearance by Antoine Griezmann’s shot.

The next challenge of a France whose players think they can be “world champions” -Lucas Hernández Dixit- as twenty years ago was the generation of its coach Didier Deschamps, it is a Belgium that has also managed to adapt its speech to the different rivals , well armed in defense and attack, with a good strategist, Roberto Martinez, and an “infiltrator”: Thierry Henry.

The striker Olivier Giroud hopes to convince tomorrow in St. Petersburg that he was a great icon of French football in the 2000s who made a mistake by accepting Martinez’s offer to help him in the technical staff of the Red Devils.

After having completed his penalty game by accumulating warnings, France recovers Blaise Matuidi, who will probably recover his position in the lineup on the left of the attack, in the line of midfielders who complete Griezmann and Mbappé. The only doubt of France is the lateral substitute Benjamin Mendy, with muscular problems.

Probable alignments:

France: Lloris; Pavard, Umtiti, Varane, Lucas Hernández; Pogba, Kante; Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi; and Giroud.

Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Carrasco, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Chadli; Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.

Referee: Andrés Cunha (URU)

Venue: St. Petersburg Stadium (2:00 pm)


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