Friday, 15 February, 2019


Can We Please Talk About Kylian Mbappe's Genius Pass Against Belgium

France Belgium graphic Can We Please Talk About Kylian Mbappe's Genius Pass Against Belgium
Hannah Rogers | 11 July, 2018, 10:18

France's Samuel Umtiti celebrates scoring their first goal in the World Cup Semi-Final against Belgium in Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia, July 10, 2018.

The game will feature plenty of talented attackers and has the potential to be one of the most exciting games of the competition.

The European neighbours meet in Tuesday's first semi-final in Saint Petersburg for the right to play England or Croatia in Sunday's showpiece in Moscow.

France were not about to roll over however as the trio of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe turned it up a notch to inspire Les Bleus back into the game.

Belgium took early control of midfield with France content to sit deep and eliminate the threat of counter-attacks Hazard and De Bruyne.

Three of the five goals Belgium conceded were from dead-ball situations, but Martinez refused to admit that failure to prepare for defending set pieces was his team's undoing in Russian Federation.

"Belgium blew Brazil away with a devastating show of attacking football".

Belgium faced a heart-stopping moment of uncertainty in the first knockout round against Japan, when Martinez's decision to rest players in their final group match against England nearly backfired spectacularly.

The Belgians, often said to now have a "golden generation" of players, have looked impressive during their run at the tournament, which included a 2-1 victory over Brazil in the last eight.

The Chelsea winger was outstanding in the first half but his influence waned after the break as Didier Deschamps' side retreated into their shells once Samuel Umtiti had headed the only goal of the game in the 50th minute.

Roberto Martinez's swashbuckling Belgium side head into Tuesday's semi-final with familiar foes France as the World Cup's leading scorers, but their old rivals have evolved as the tournament has progressed and will also be full of confidence.

Confidence is sky-high after they ousted Neymar's Brazil in the quarter-finals but they will come up against formidable opponents in France as they try to reach a first ever World Cup final.

At the final whistle, there were congratulations and commiserations for and from Henry as he hugged and spoke with players on both sides.

From Griezmann's corner, Umtiti beat Marouane Fellaini at the near post and powered a header home to put France ahead.

He joined the Belgium setup in 2016 just after Martinez was appointed and reportedly set to work immediately with forwards Romelu Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi. Giving an insight into his managerial nous, Mourinho explained set piece training ideally fits the World Cup schedule, which results in a reduced reliance on goals from open play. In the end France were just too savvy for Belgium.

In search of the equalizer, Belgium repeatedly sent over crosses from both wings but Umtiti and Varane, both centre backs, used their bodies cleverly to hold off Fellaini and Lukaku.

France captain and keeper Hugo Lloris, who played for two seasons with Henry in the national team, said: "He is a huge player and a great gentleman of French football". France were in the final of the Euros, but I don't want any of my players to be frustrated or disappointed.

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