France take on Belgium in the first semi-final in St. Petersburg on Tuesday night. France last made the final back in 2006, losing on penalties to Italy, while Belgium have never made it that far in the competition, their best finish coming in 1986 when they finished fourth, losing ironically to Tuesday’s opponents in the play-off game.
France beat Uruguay 2-0 in the quarter final, with goals coming from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann, the second coming from a howling error from Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. It was a very different game from the one which saw the French defeat Argentina in the round of 16 but was convincing nonetheless and Didier Deschamps’ side are now tournament favourites heading into the final week.
As for Belgium, they put in an outstanding performance to beat Brazil in the quarter finals to reach this stage of the competition for the first time since 1986. A Fernandinho own goal and a long shot from Kevin de Bruyne fired the Red Devils ahead, before Renato Augusto gave the Brazilians some late hope, but it wasn’t to be. One negative from the night was right-back Thomas Meunier receiving a yellow card, which means he’ll miss this game through suspension.
France vs. Belgium Predictions
Both teams have shown in this tournament that they’re capable of attacking and scoring goals, which could see this one being a high-scoring encounter. I fancy France to win, although there’s not much between the two sides.
France vs. Belgium Betting Tips
Head to Head
- This will be the 74th meeting in all competitions between France and Belgium. France have won 24 times to Belgium’s 30 (19 draws).
- This will be the first competitive meeting between France and Belgium since the 1986 W. Cup, when France won 4-2 in the third-place play-off.
- France have won both W. Cup meetings against Belgium, winning 3-1 in the first round in 1938 and 4-2 in the third-place play-off match in 1986.
- Belgium won 4-3 the last time they met France, in a friendly in Paris in 2015.
- This is only Belgium’s second appearance in the W. Cup semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Argentina in 1986.
- France are making their sixth appearance in the W. Cup semi-finals. They were eliminated from their first three (1958, 1982 and 1986) and have reached the final in the last two (1998 and 2006).
- Belgium are unbeaten in their last 24 matches in all competitions, winning 19 and drawing five.
- Belgium’s haul of 14 goals is the most by the semi-final stage of a W. Cup tournament since Brazil in 2002 (15).
- Excluding shootouts, France have lost just one of their last 13 games in the knockout rounds of the W. Cup (W10 D2 L1).
- Belgium have had nine different goalscorers in the 2018 W. Cup (excluding own goals). Only Italy in 2006 and France in 1982 (10 each) have had more in a single tournament.
- France forward Antoine Griezmann has scored seven goals in his last six knockout stage matches in major tournaments (W. Cup and Euros).
- Romelu Lukaku has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 13 games for Belgium in all competitions (17 goals, 3 assists).
- France’s Kylian Mbappe (3 goals) is the highest scoring teenager in a W. Cup tournament since Pele scored six in 1958. Pele scored a hat-trick against France in the semi-final of that tournament, the last teen to score in the last four of the competition.
- Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 14 goals in his last 14 games for Belgium (8 goals, 6 assists).
France Team News
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)
Belgium Team News
Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Youri Tielemens (Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian), Michy Batshuayi (Borussia Dortmund), Nacer Chadli (WBA), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)