Chances Galore as France, Belgium Look to Break Deadlock

France's Kylian Mbappe  is one of the reasons why the World Cup semifinal against Belgium could turn into a goal-fest

AP France's Kylian Mbappe is one of the reasons why the World Cup semifinal against Belgium could turn into a goal-fest

Not only is Thierry Henry already taken, but the team that hired France's record scorer as an assistant coach is, yes, you guessed it. Belgium.

Jean-Marie Pfaff, the Belgium goalkeeper when they last reached the World Cup semi-finals in 1986, told AFP's German sports agency SID that Henry would be "France's main opponent" in the semi-final.

Throughout this World Cup, if there's one criticism we've heard directed at France, it's that it hasn't looked overly impressive, despite winning five of its six matches and drawing the other.

Belgian and French supporters gather at a cafe on July 9, 2018 near the French-Belgian border, ahead of the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Belgium and France on July 10, 2018.

Soccer's World Cup notches up the intensity even more today when France and Belgium meet in the first semifinal match.

"We played together as team-mates and he was much younger and I was at the end of my career".

"It's been a few years now that he said certain things in the media, before going back on his words or at least changing them", Giroud said.

However, Umtiti popped up with the game's telling moment early in the second half, nodding the ball home to score his third worldwide goal.

"We've strived to be as good as we could be at worldwide level and it's taken us two years to get there".

With regard to France, Martinez believes the two teams have something in common. Belgium's side is blessed with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku. De Bruyne'sflexibility has allowed Martinez to tinker with his tactics during games and the former Everton boss knows how important the Manchester City playmaker is.

France determined to defeat Henry's Belgium
A living legend of French football, Henry was one of the stars during their 1998 World Cup win. Vermaelen believes France will be tougher opponents than five-times world champions Brazil.

With the two sides just a day away from the highly anticipated clash, Giroud has revealed that Belgium star Hazard is one of the best players he has ever had the privilege of working beside, with France wonderkid Kylian Mbappe closing in on that honour day-by-day. "That's the quality that he has".

Meanwhile, France coach Didier Deschamps is confident he has prepared his players for any tactical surprises his opposite number Martinez might spring.

Belgium wing-back Thomas Meunier is suspended so will miss the match in St Petersburg. Born in the French-speaking part of Belgium, he came through as a player across the border at Lille, and was the outstanding player in the team that won the French league and cup double in 2011 before eventually moving on to Chelsea.

"Will they do something similar for us?"

"Belgium are in a forward gear", said Deschamps.

The Stuttgart right-back not only made his 23-man squad but also started ahead of Djibril Sidibé.

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There is no question we are about to witness a very open game.

However, France have prevailed on each of the three occasions the pair have met at major tournament finals, with the last time being at the group stage of the European Championships in 1984 when Les Bleus ran out 5-0 winners on their way to claiming the title. With the sides hard to separate on paper, how they handle the pressure, and perhaps those little nuggets of inside knowledge, could make all the difference.

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