The FIFA world cup is now down to four European sides who play against each other in two semifinals to decide who gets to play the July 15th, 2018 final in Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.
France and Belgium have been the two most impressive sides in the competition. Together, they have accounted for the elimination of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, three teams with the highest pedigree and experience in world football. The winner of this match will likely head to the final as clear favourites to win the world cup.
France appears to have a much solid squad compared to Belgium and came into the world cup not sure of their best formation or the first eleven, but has grown more confident and settled in their line-ups. With Kylian Mbappe, France boasts of one the most exciting teenagers in European football, whose performance against Argentina in the last 16 was one of the most memorable moments of the world cup so far.
France’s defense is not their strong point, conceding four goals so far, although three of them were in one game against Argentina in the last 16. Their attack is breathtaking, nine goals plundered in so far, Mbappe and Griezmann being the main attackers. They will look to play on the counter and are expected to conquer the equally impressive Belgian side.
Belgium has been quietly effective throughout the tournament, and except for the game against Japan in the last 16, where they had to come back from two goals down to win 3-2, they have looked capable of beating any team. Their front three of De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku is fearsome and capable of scoring against any team, the only question is who gets to plays in left wingback where Nacer Chadli performed at a higher standard than Yannick Carrasco in the game against Brazil, as well as whether Fellaini reserves his place in defensive midfield, having impressed too in the quarter-final.
Belgium has scored the most goals of any team in the tournament, having scored 14 and conceded 5 only. Lukaku has been excellent, with a brilliant performance against Brazil that showcased his fearsome array of pace and physique. He has four goals in the competition, second only to Harry Kane, and has played some of his best football in months at this world cup.
Belgium should play with the same formation that proved dangerous against Brazil, with Eden Hazard and Lukaku freed of defensive duties and placed high up the field to exploit any spaces left by the French fullbacks. The battle between Eden Hazard and young Pavard will be interesting to watch.
Prediction: Both of these teams have been mightily impressive in the World Cup so far, and will each have designs of making the final. France arguably has a better squad, but Belgium with De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku have a brilliant strike-force that will create and finish chances. It is likely to be a high scoring encounter, and I think France has a better defense and might edge this one by the odd goal.