After 60 matches, we have finally reached the 2018 FIFA World Cup Semi-Finals where the ‘Fabulous Four’ all do battle for a place in Sunday’s Grand Final.
First up is the almighty clash of title favourites as France meet Belgium in the opening semi-final.
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France have Blaise Matuidi available after the Juventus midfielder served a one match ban last time out.
That means that Corentin Tolisso will drop back down to the bench.
Belgium meanwhile are without Right Wing-back, Thomas Meunier due to suspension but could yet stick with same formation as last time out.
France come into this unbeaten with four wins and a draw from their five World Cup games so far.
Along the way, they have beaten three South-American sides and drew their only European meeting, against Denmark in final group game.
Belgium meanwhile have won all of their games en route to this stage, netting 14 goals and conceding just five times.
In their last outing, the Red Devils managed to stun Brazil so extended their unbeaten run to 24 matches.
- France have won all three past major meetings between these sides. whilst Belgium have avoided defeat in last three friendlies.
- Belgium are yet to win a Semi Final at a major tournament whilst France have won their last two, having lost their first three appearances at this stage.
- Belgium has the most different goal scorers in a single team at this tournament, having had nine different players score 13 of their 14 goals (Brazil’s Fernandinho scored an own goal against them in Quarter Final).
- Six of France’s nine goals have come from the combo of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
- Eden Hazard has made two assists to Antoine Griezmann’s one throughout the tournament so far.
- Belgium has double France’s total number of corners, having earned 30 corners to Les Bleus’ 15.
- France have committed one more foul than Belgium, making 73 fouls to Belgium’s 72.
This definitely should be a thriller because both teams are dangerous and there is a place in the final at stake here, so everyone will want to leave their body out there knowing that they tried their best.
As top scorers, Belgium will fancy their chances here and they have players currently at peak of their careers who know that this is probably their time to go for the title.
France however have a fairly youthful side mixed with experience of Matuidi and Adil Rami so won’t fear too much here, having already disposed of Argentina and Uruguay in last two rounds.
This is tough to predict because it could really come down to who holds their nerve but I am ultimately going for a Belgium win after extra time.
Prediction: France 1-2 Belgium AET