Thursday, 21 February, 2019


'Gentleman' Henry hailed before emotional France v Belgium clash

Henry at a Belgium training session. Image PA Henry at a Belgium training session. Image PA
Noah Ferguson | 10 July, 2018, 22:19

France and Belgium will meet in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinals later today in St. Petersburg, Russia, pitting the neighboring countries (the game is being billed as "La Fête des Voisins", or The Neighbors' Party) against each other for a chance to play for the title Sunday against the victor of Wednesday's England-Croatia matchup.

Roberto Martinez's surprise 4-3-3 was just insane enough to confuse the Brazil defence throughout the first half of their quarter-final, which puts them in a strong position to do something similar on the counter-attack against France - particularly through the middle.

The victor will face either Croatia or England, who play on Wednesday, in Moscow´s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday. France and Belgium have eliminated South America's three biggest nations, and confidence is sure to be running high in both camps. But on the right, Kante could be the man tasked with shackling club-mate Hazard.

For France, who have reached this stage five times before, a win will take them to their third World Cup final - they lost to Germany in 2006 after a World Cup win at home eight years before that. "But tomorrow, on a professional level, he will be putting all the passion that drives him into the Belgian team".

On Monday, meanwhile, Belgium's Kevin de Bruyne was asked cheekily if he thought Henry might sing the French national anthem on Wednesday night.

"It might be a bit hard for him but he´s working for Belgium now, he wants us to win".

The game at Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, starts at 9 p.m. local time, or 2 p.m. The win will not only confirm France's place in the Final, but it also show that the team is ready to become the world powerhouse everyone expects them to be sooner than later. France beat Argentina 4-3 in the last-16 round thanks to Kylian Mbappe's virtuoso display, while Belgium impressed in a 2-1 win over Brazil in the quarterfinals.

France looked defensively solid in the 2-0 victory over Uruguay.

France & Belgium will meet on Tuesday evening, with a place in the World Cup finals on the line.

If the squad was deemed too young to compete in 2014, then Euro 2016 was surely a full-blown choke, as they lost to a Welsh team that didn't make it to Russian Federation.

I know wing-back Nacer Chadli, who is likely be to directly up against Mbappe, said he is as good as Lionel Messi was at his age, but I disagree.

"To play without fear would probably be the one thing which would help us the most".

England's midfielder Jordan Henderson has recovered from his injury against Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final and should be fit to play Croatia in the semis.

"It could be a little bit hard but he's working for Belgium now and he wants us to win".

Consequently they will be looking to find Mario Mandzukic's head at every opportunity, which plays into England's hands.

Captain Harry Kane is leading England´s charge with six goals so far, putting him top in the race for the Golden Boot.

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

"This time, in an global match, it is much higher".

The teams have met 73 times before with Belgium winning on 30 occasions, France 24, and 19 matches drawn.

Hazard is one of the brightest talents in Belgium's golden generation which is targeting its country's first World Cup title in Russian Federation.

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