Saturday, 20 April, 2019

Fearless France ready to show Belgium's Henry he picked wrong side

Man Utd Romelu Lukaku Belgium World Cup GETTY Man Utd star Romelu Lukaku has been impressive for Belgium at the World Cup
Cary Erickson | 09 July, 2018, 19:12

There seems very little to stop Belgium and France producing a World Cup classic in Tuesday's semi-final.

Hours away from what will be the most important game in his career and for the national team he now coaches, a semifinal clash against France in Saint Petersburg, Martinez looks affable, relaxed and confident.

"It's not a case of actively wanting to sell either player, but knowing they are in a potentially compromised position and needing replacements".

Going by Hazard's prediction, which he shared before any team set their feet in Russian Federation on June 6, Belgium would storm the finals and win the match against England.

The diminutive winger is among the most-fouled players in the Premier League and the same has been true at the World Cup as well.

Belgium has height and heading ability in defenders Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini. They've given their supporters one of the most enjoyable rides of the World Cup. "But we're not thinking about it too much, we're going to be focused on the pitch and our game".

Also in the elite underworld of goings-on, Manchester City are said to have agreed a whopping £60m deal with Leicester City for their winger Riyad Mahrez, with the Algerian set to undergo a medical in the coming days. The best team doesn't always win.

With Belgium trailing Japan 2-0 in the round of 16, Martinez replaced two wide players with two midfielders and they both scored.

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What's certain is that with one more win Les Bleus are back in the World Cup final for the first time in a dozen years.

For the French to land it, they'll have to end Belgium's 24-match unbeaten run which comprises 19 wins and five draws.

Belgium can call upon the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, while Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe have shone for France in Russian Federation.

Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann scored for France, who advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2006.

He must have an affinity for Belgium, maybe an allegiance to them as well.

The Red Devils have also shown that, unlike their last two major global tournaments, the big matches do not faze them.

Former Arsenal and Barcelona forward Henry, who was part of the squad that won the World Cup on home soil 20 years ago, is now alongside Belgium coach Roberto Martinez and eyeing the chinks in France's armor. Prediction: Belgium 3, France 2.

Henry made his French debut less than a year before the 1998 World Cup, joining Didier Deschamps - now the French coach - Zinedine Zidane, Laurent Blanc and Patrick Vieira on perhaps the best French team ever.