Written by Manoj Waykole
Two European heavyweights, France and Belgium, meet at Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, July 10, with kick-off scheduled for 11:30 PM IST. The World Cup winners will be European for sure now and at least one player playing the premier league will become World Champion.
Belgium Team News – Martinez will be without Thomas Meunier as he serves the one-match ban.
The Red Devils do not have a right-wing back to cover for Meunier, but Nacer Chadli is expected to feature as he did against England in the group stage match. Yannick Carrasco will be resumed in his position taken up by Chadli. It will be interesting to see whether Roberto Martinez sticks with Fellaini or brings back Dries Mertens France Team News – Blaise Matuidi will be back from his suspension, but will he feature on the left flank or will Didier Deschamps go with Corentin Tolisso remains a dilemma for the manager. Apart from this there might not be any surprises as Deschamps hasn’t made any changes in that Starting-11, except that of Ousmane Dembele.
The best attacking team at the tournament defended successfully against the 5 times World Cup
winners and showed that they are prepared for every circumstance. Despite of having three
experienced defenders in that back line, the Belgium defense looks leaky and the suspension of Muenier can make them more vulnerable.
France on the other hand, has grown progressively throughout the tournament. Not a lot of people
expected them to make it to the Semi-Finals after their displays in the Group stage matches. The
Belgians have an aerial advantage over the French and how to overcome it will be a crucial part of
Deschamps’s game plan.
Kevin De Bruyne’s creativity and Eden Hazard’s dribbles alongside the pace and strength of Romelu Lukaku will surely trouble the young French defense, but they have the world class N’golo Kante protecting them. Kylian Mbappe’s pace and the way Antoine Griezmann supports him will be the key to French attack. They will be reinforced by Paul Pogba’s and Blaise Matuidi’s energy, if he starts ahead of Tolisso.
The Winners obviously will play in the FIFA 2018 World Cup Finals, against one of England or Croatia. Belgium has never played the finals, while the French have won it once and finished as a runner-up once too. These two have come up against each other 74 times, Belgium has won 30 of them as compared to France’s 24.