Of the 32 countries that came to Russia to participate in the World Cup, only four remain.
The teams came from every continent, but in the two semifinals came four European countries that will fight for the right to show off and, most importantly, have a place in the final of the World Cup, next Sunday.
The first semifinal is between France and Belgium. The European neighbors are this July 10 in St. Petersburg to decide who will go to the final with the winner between Croatia and England.
Tuesday’s match has an additional touch of intrigue and is that the French and Belgian players know each other very well. French midfielder N’golo Kante will be tasked with subduing his Chelsea teammate Eden Hazard, who is one of the creative forces of the Belgium team.
From 32 nations at the World Cup, four remain. They came from every continent, but the two semifinals will see four European countries fight for bragging rights and more importantly a place in Sunday’s World Cup final. First up is France and Belgium. The European neighbors meet in St. Petersburg to decide who will meet either England or Croatia in the final. . . . #worldcup #worldcup2018 #russia2018 #semifinal #france #belgium #illustration
In the plays of quiet ball, the French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who plays in the Spurs will have to watch out for the aerial threat of his teammates and Belgian defenses Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, team-mates at Manchester United, will also be in opposite places on Tuesday. Pogba has had an amazing presentation with Kante, the French midfielder, while Lukaku has scored four goals in Russia 2018.
“We know them, they know us,” French technical director Didier Deschamps told reporters at a press conference. He was instrumental in the French team’s victory in the 1998 World Cup.
“The peculiarity is that there are many players on my team who have teammates they will face, it’s an advantage for both teams,” said Deschamps. “We will do everything to take advantage of any opportunity to reach the World Cup final,” he added.
Thierry Henry, friend or enemy?
Thierry Henry was also part of the French victory team in 1998. He is now an assistant to Roberto Martínez, coach of Belgium, and both plan how to beat France tactically.
Former French captain Henry scored 51 goals in 123 international appearances; He also won the European Championship in 2000 along with Deschamps.
“It’s true, it’s a little peculiar to see him with the Belgium team,” Lloris said of Henry.
“I think his heart will be divided, because first of all he’s French, he’s had great moments with the blue shirt, he scored the most goals, he’s second in terms of titles,” said Lloris.
“We know him well, he has a passion for football and will be with the Belgians and will give everything to help his team,” added the French goalkeeper.
This Tuesday will be the first time in history in which Belgium competes a semifinal in 32 years.
Both teams have emerged from difficult encounters with South American teams to reach the semi-final. France defeated Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16 thanks to the virtuosity of Kylian Mbappé, while Belgium had an impressive 2-1 victory over Brazil in the quarterfinals.
“The crowd deserves a great show,” Belgian midfielder Nacer Chadli told FIFA.com before the semifinal on Tuesday.
“If we could beat Brazil, we should not be afraid of anyone, even if France has such a complete team,” he added. “All the players believe that our manager is one step ahead tactically, and I think our hunger for victory will be bigger than theirs.”