All you need to know about France-Belgium, semi-final FIFA World Cup 2018.
France and Belgium will face each other on Tuesday, July 10th at 20.00 (CET) at the St. Petersburg Stadium.
Back in the semi-finals of a World Cup edition after 12 years, France are perhaps the last remaining out of the teams that started this campaign as possible winners. The other Russia 2018 World Cup favourites, Argentina, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Brazil have all been sent home. The Brazilians were eliminated by Belgium, France’s challengers and semi-finalists for the second time in their history after Mexico '86.
Precedents and statistics
There are 62 previous clashes between these two Nations: Belgium have met more times only neighbouring Holland (126), while for France this is the most repeated challenge during the course of the country's football history. The balance is surprisingly in favour of Belgium, which over time have collected 24 wins, 17 draws with 21 wins for France.
Considering only official competitions, however, the balance changes completely. At the World Cup the two selections previously crossed paths in 1938 and 1986 and both matches ended with a Les Bleus victory (although in '86 France won only on penalties the final for third place). At the Euros, they met only once in 1984, where the Belgians have again lost (for 5-0, with a hat-trick by Platini).
Team Forms and Recent Results
France and Belgium are now the two top favourites for final victory. France have a strong team. The 4-3 win against Argentina in the first knockout round revealed an impressive Mbappé. The 2-0 win against Uruguay in the quarterfinals showed that the Bleus are not dependent on the plays of a single player and can win as a team unit. They are a balanced team composed of talented players.
Belgium are high on enthusiasm after their win against Brazil. After exalting Lukaku's talents at the group stage, during the knockout phase the Les Diables Rouges relied on the exceptional qualities of Eden Hazard and De Bruyne, as well as the strength of the other elements. Against Brazil, coach Martínez has shown that he is able to tactically prepare the matches as best as possible, by inserting the strength and height of Fellaini in the middle and altering his 3-4-2-1 formation during non-possession to a defence of four to counter Brazil’s attacking trio. Belgium’s golden generation have finally managed to express their full potential and certainly, they will not want to waste this opportunity to write the history books.
Probable Squad and Formations
After his suspension from the quarterfinal against Uruguay, Matuidi will return for France. Deschamps managed to invent a key tactical role change for the Juventus player, as he is playing him as a high midfielder but with different tasks than those of Mbappé. For the rest, the French should line up in the way shape as they have used in this competition.
For the Belgians, Meunier will miss the match due to suspension. It will be necessary to find out whether the Belgian coach will want to start with the same eleven that played against Brazil, where he opted for strength the inclusion of Fellaini and shifting De Bruyne in an attacking role or if instead, he will go for more flair with the inclusion of Mertens upfront.
France (4-2-3-1) : Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kanté, Pogba; Mbappé, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud. Coach: Deschamps
Belgium (3-4-2-1) : Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Chadli, Witsel, Fellaini, Carrasco; De Bruyne, Hazard; Lukaku. Coach: Martínez
France vs Belgium key players to watch
Griezmann heads into the semi-final in frightening form. The Atletico Madrid man’s pinpoint cross set up Varane’s header against Uruguay, before he scored a fortuitous second.
That third World Cup 2018 goal meant France continued a run in which they have not lost any of the 20 games in which he is notched. Better still, they have won the last 16 of those.
The forward has now scored seven goals in his last six appearances in the knockout stages of major tournaments (World Cup and European Championship).
The odds on Griezmann to score first against Belgium are at 6.00.
Romelu Lukaku was in fine form against Brazil, with his powerful run setting up Kevin De Bruyne’s rasping finish. Lukaku has scored four times in this tournament and has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 13 appearances for Belgium.
The Man Utd striker is the 5.50 favourite in the First Goalscorer betting. If you fancy him to score first in a 90-minute victory for Roberto Martinez’s men, William Hill are offering Enhanced Odds of 5.00 (was 4.50).
France vs Belgium – Our prediction
This promises to be a fascinating semi-final encounter between two teams with a wealth of attacking talent at their disposal, with France bagging nine goals in their five World Cup matches so far, and Belgium notching a tournament-leading 14 goals.
Our Algorithm believes in Belgium qualifying to the next round, recognising significant chances for an extra time or penalties: 37% for a Belgium Win and 34% for a draw after 90 minutes.
France vs Belgium odds on it going to penalties are 5.50.
France vs Belgium odds currently have Les Bleus at 2.40 to win within 90 minutes, whereas the Red Devils are at 3.10 to win.