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Belgium v France: Hazard & Kante on Hazard & Kante

10 Juillet 2018

Tuesday will be the first time Belgium has contested a World Cup semifinal in 32 years. That was the last competitive match between the two countries but there have been eight global friendlies since.

The French will remember well what happened when the teams last met, with Belgium tearing them apart in a 4-3 friendly win in Paris in June 2015.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez brought Henry into the Belgium set-up two years ago to impart not just his knowledge of goal scoring he is France's all-time top scorer with 51 goals in 123 appearances, and Arsenal's with 228 but also his experience of winning with a team weighed down by great expectations.

"We know there are going to be hard moments and we'll have to be ready to suffer".

I pointed out before the tournament how much his reading of the game has improved in recent seasons - if he is heavily marked, he knows where and when to move to drag his markers to open up space for his teammates.

Eden Hazard is one of the French academy system's finest exports in the past decade but he could be the man to end Didier Deschamps's bid for World Cup glory.

"He motivates the troops with strong words", Pavard said.

"We will need to anticipate him and be well-positioned".

And Lloris said at a pre-match press conference streamed on FIFA's official website: "They are an exhaustive team, they know how to do everything".

The one doubtful player is Samuel Umtiti. Fans welcomed his arrival in August 2016 with lukewarm enthusiasm because he'd only recently been fired by Everton in the Premier League.

Belgium produced what was heralded as a coming of age performance against Brazil in the quarter-final, blowing the five-time winners away with a display of attacking verve that was mixed with grit and resilience in defence. "On the personal front it is with great pleasure that I'm going to see him tomorrow". "He's held in high esteem".

With Belgium trailing Japan 2-0 in the round of 16, Martinez replaced two wide players with two midfielders and they both scored.

On Tuesday, however, he will come up against one of the world's best defensive midfielders in a battle that could go a long way to deciding the outcome. It is a tactic that has become a hallmark of both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur over the last two years. The current French squad is inevitably compared to the class of 1998, which won their sole World Cup title in their own backyard. Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba and will try to take the game to Belgium. "The best is Hugo".

Belgium wing-back Thomas Meunier is suspended so will miss the match in St Petersburg. The Chelsea man will also be facing off against Eden Hazard, and will certainly be looking to get one over his team-mate at club level. Hazard runs at pace and cuts inside.

As World Cup fever builds at home, England are avoiding the hype as the coach Gareth Southgate prepares his team in their tranquil base near Saint Petersburg for their first semi-final since 1990.

Antoine Griezmann, whose bagged three goals at this tournament, joins Lukaku, Mbappe and Hazard in a ultra-attacking formation.

Belgium v France: Hazard & Kante on Hazard & Kante