Saturday, 20 April, 2019

How to Watch France-Belgium World Cup Semi Final 2018

Thierry Henry Thierry Henry forms part of Belgium's coaching staff Credit getty images
Cary Erickson | 11 July, 2018, 01:32

Samuel Umtiti scored the victor, which was a fitting conclusion considering how huge the French defence has been all tournament long.

It will also showcase some of the finest talent in the world, with more stars than it makes sense to list out to write their names in World Cup history.

But it was a brilliant defensive display from France who kept the tournament's top scorers goal-less, providing the bedrock from which they earned victory.

Speaking in the build-up to the match, De Bruyne made a very surprising revelation about 19-year-old France and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe. "There is a big rivalry between France and Belgium, it's like a derby match".

Expected goals - an advanced analytic used to determine the quality of a shot - backs up the latter claim.

There were some great saves during the first 45 minutes with France having their first attempt on goal as Blaise Matuidi fired a strong effort towards Belgian goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois. Kylian Mbappe is the standout but N'Golo Kante is probably their most important player.

There are plenty of other ways to watch today's France-Belgium game, meanwhile.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez set up his side brilliantly against Brazil, and I'm sure he will replicate that and come up with a plan to stop Mbappe, and for that matter Antoine Griezmann.

Even in defeat, Eden Hazard attempted everything possible to try and nick an equalizer for Belgium.

It was an encouraging start for Belgium.

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Despite a comfortable scoreline, Belgium's defence was horrific against Brazil.

Martinez replicated his tactic at Everton of deploying Romelu Lukaku as a right-winger against the adventurous Marcelo, leaving the Manchester United forward to torment Miranda and kickstart a plethora of counter-attacks.

That is why Belgium failed to create any chances in the box.

"He has given so much to the France team and we have got a lot of respect for what he has done".

51' GOAL! Umtiti gets the goal to break the deadlock!

Thierry Henry's presence at the 2018 World Cup has been as discreet as he can make it, but he cannot control all the cameramen turning their lenses on him, all the press conference enquiries about him or indeed, the exuberance of some Belgian players.

The player who suffered the most after Martinez's tactical tweak was Romelu Lukaku. By miles the best touch of the match. However, if Lukaku is asked to hold up the ball and be a decoy, he's nowhere near as effective. Defeated Brazil in the quarterfinals, 2-1. Belgium disappeared from the forefront of the worldwide scene for years before emerging once more with their current gifted crop.

De Bruyne and Belgium will be hoping he has a rare off-night though, as they battle for the right to play England or Croatia in the World Cup final.

By the time the World Cup semifinals roll around, the time for surprises is over.

Belgium will be without Thomas Meunier for the first time in the tournament, as the PSG midfield has also picked up a suspension. And the presence of French World Cup victor Thierry Henry on the Belgian coaching staff as one of Martinez's assistants adds extra spice to the occasion. To be so close to lifting the trophy, with everyone in form, losing in the semis is tough to accept.