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France v Belgium - Preview and possible lineups

Matt Morley by Matt Morley @rfutbol - 1 +14k

Pin Hazard and Mbappe are likely to be key to their respective sides. AFP
Hazard and Mbappe are likely to be key to their respective sides. AFP

France v Belgium - Preview and possible lineups

Matt Morley by Matt Morley @rfutbol - 1 +14k

We take a look ahead to Tuesday's World Cup semi-final clash between France and Belgium from the Krestovsky Stadium.

France: Midfielder Blaise Matuidi returns after a ban and is likely to go straight back into the starting XI at the expense of Corentin Tolisso, who filled in during the quarter-final victory over Uruguay. Didier Deschamps will maintain faith with Olivier Girous up front, despite the Chelsea striker having yet to score a goal or even register a shot on target so far during the tournament. Kylian Mbappe missed training on Monday, whilst N'Golo Kante and Benjamin Pavard trained away from the main group as Deschamps attempted to keep his side fresh for the game, but he is expecting to have a full squad available to him on Tuesday night.

Belgium: The 'Red Devils' face a selection headache, with right-back Thomas Meunier suspended. That could mean Nacer Chadli and Yannick Carrasco start at wing-back, otherwise Roberto Martinez is facing a defensive reshuffle. It remains to be seen if Martinez will persists with Kevin De BRuyne in a more advanced role or if he will recall Dries Mertens. 

France boss Didier Deschamps:

"There is no revenge in football, I don't like that word.

"All I am going to say now is that we are in the semi-final and we have the chance to play in the final of the World Cup, so let's try to do everything ... Portugal is not the Belgium side we face tomorrow, we have to give everything to get there.

"The potential is there, the individual quality is there, this side is younger than the side that was in the final of Euro 2016 but they have a lot of club experience at [a] high level.

"We will be more competitive. In two and four years, we have a lot of players who will still be here with us. There is potential for progression and this experience here should help them.

"Maybe I am in the right place at the right time and we all work hard, but the game belongs to the players, the manager has his role, but it is different."

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez:

"This group has to play with no fear at all. "If we approach this match with fear within us, we will bring ourselves down and we'd be able to do so much less than what we can actually do.

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

"That's a very tough thing to do (stopping Mbappe).

"I don't think there's an easy answer for that because Mbappe is an exceptional player under those circumstances.

"We will need to anticipate him and be well-positioned. We need to defend spaces more than the player himself. But we are not going to forget the others since France has a very complete attacking pattern."


Did you know?

The two sides have met three times at major tournaments, with France winning all three encounters.

Belgium are unbeaten in the last three friendlies between the two sides (W1, D2).

This will be France's sixth World Cup semi-final. 'Les Bleus' lost their first three (1958, 1982, 1986), but have won their last two (1998 & 2006).

Exluding penalty shootouts, France have lost just one of their last 13 World Cup knockout games (W10, D2, L1).

This will be only Belgium's second World Cup semi-final appearance.

Belgium are unbeaten in 24 games (W19, D5, L0).

France have scored with each of their last six shots on target.

Possible lineups:

France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kante; Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud.

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Carrasco; Fellaini, Witsel, Chadli; Hazard, Lukaku, De Bruyne.

Matt Morley

Matt Morley

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