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World Cup 2018 Semifinals: Belgium vs. France Preview

As the 2018 World Cup heads into the final stretch, only four teams remain in the melee. Belgium and France are two of them and will compete in the first semifinal. Here is the preview of the game and a prediction of how things will go.

World Cup 2018 – Belgium vs. France

  • Date: July 10, 2018, 2:00 PM ET  
  • Betting Odds: France +153 vs Belgium +215 – Draw +225
  • Belgium to Advance PK +116
  • France to Advance PK -140

The two European nations face each other for the first time in a match of this importance since the 1986 World Cup when France won with a 4-2 score in the third-place game. There have played in friendlies over the years, but with so much at stake in this game it could turn out to be one for the ages.

Belgium Analysis

There’s no denying the talent that both of these teams have in its ranks. France’s Griezmann and Mbappe cannot look down upon Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard who are their equals in every aspect of the game.

However, Belgium had a slow start in this World Cup but is now peaking just at the right time which makes this such an interesting game from a tactical perspective.

Both sides will test their opponent’s defense and will remain wary to give each other an opportunity to launch a quick counter to net goals.

Belgium shored up its midfield with Fellaini and Nacer Chadli after being harried by a Japanese team that pressed forward and proved to disrupt their strategy. Chadli played higher up the middle with Lukaku switched to the right and De Bruyne used as a “false nine” in their win over Brazil. 

The real test for Belgium’s midfielders will be to get past N'Golo Kanté. The Chelsea defensive midfielder has been key to Les Bleus’ success in Russia and will be the main obstacle to overcome if Belgium is to break through to find scoring opportunities.

Kevin de Bruyne will be tasked with being Belgium’s playmaker to find opportunities for counter attacks with passes either to Eden Hazard on the left or to Romelu Lukaku on the right.

Belgium Predicted Lineup: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Carrasco, Fellaini, Witsel, Chadli, De Bruyne, Lukaku, E.Hazard

France Analysis

Though France started their World Cup bid as one of the favorites to win it all, their performance was lackluster through the group stage with unconvincing wins over Australia and Peru in Group C.

However, since getting past Denmark in the last 16, they’ve turned on the backburners and combined for six goals in their wins over Argentina and Uruguay.

Forwards Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe have combined with target man Olivier Giroud to present a formidable forward line that’s proved to be disruptive to even the best of defenses.

France also has a solid defense with center backs Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane, who along with Benjamin Pavard can also set up attacks from deep.

It’s France’s balance as a team that will make it difficult for Belgium to break through despite their more than capable abilities to find the back of the net.

Mbappe will once more be the player to watch in this game; the 19-year old has raised eyebrows behind a fantastic performance against Argentina. The PSG star ran circles around the South Americans, taking part in three goals while becoming the first teenager to net 3 goals in a World Cup since Pele’s time in the 1958 World Cup Finals when he scored six goals for Brazil.

France Predicted Lineup: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Lucas, Pogba, Kante, Mbappe, Griezmann, Tolisso, Giroud

Game Prediction: The Red Devils showed what they were capable of in defeating Brazil in the quarterfinals. France will be playing with a chip on their shoulders after losing the Euro Cup, but do they have enough to win the world title? I think they do; France wins 2-1. 

 
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