Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Fans of Belgium and France trash talk before big World Cup match

N'Golo Kante France World Cup 2018 Thierry Henry: the French legend plotting his country's downfall as part of Belgium's coaching staff
Shannon Reynolds | 11 July, 2018, 01:30

Tuesday's semifinal in Saint Petersburg sees team mates from English champions Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur go head to head, as well as rivalries between club colleagues from Barcelona, Paris St Germain, and Monaco. Kevin De Bruyne, the attack-minded midfielder, coupled savvy with a pure shot from distance to find the net.

"He has become a star in France. Probably", he said. "I have made sure my players are prepared for any scenario at the beginning of the match and during the match if it changes". "It's a group of people who share a vision of making Belgian football proud and achieving something important, and these players have done that". At that time, I did not know him. But he knows that he has been working for two years to prepare for these seven games and that his players have the same commitment toward the goal. While France may not have set the world alight, the former Marseille manager's team have conceded a mere four goals in five matches.

Belgium enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening exchanges and almost drew first blood in the 15th minute when Eden Hazard flashed his shot across goal after Kevin de Bruyne's inventive flick had presented the Chelsea winger with a sight of goal. France came off the mark hot with Kylian Mbappe' immediately raising alarms for Belgium by bursting down the flank and squaring the ball for Griezmann, who was unable to line up a shot.

France striker Olivier Giroud is turning Henry's presence on the opposing side into an extra source of motivation for tomorrow's semi-final, which is France's first since 2006 and only the second ever for Belgium.

"Belgian football has got a wealth of young talent coming through", said Martinez. "Before the tournament I fancied France but Belgium have the momentum and I think they will win it, 2-1".

The game kicks off at 2 p.m. EST.

Modric was superb against Russian Federation, once again putting in a man-of-the-match performance to drag Croatia to the semi-finals.

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There are too many layers to his game, you have to worry about his speed, dribbling, eye for a pass and his intelligence to turn the attention on him into an opportunity to open up the game for his teammates. "Of course I would prefer it if he were with us and he were giving me his advice, but we mustn't be jealous", said Giroud.

Wednesday represents a date with destiny, and Martinez plans to attend with the same mantra that once helped him and his players to numerous against-the-odds wins for Wigan in the Premier League: "No fear".

I don't expect either side to sit back and play negative.

In France, the game will air at 8 PM local time on leading commercial broadcaster TF1, which drew its largest audience of the tournament - and its highest ratings of the year - with 12.9 million watching France beat Uruguay. "In the game against Brazil, we needed that and in the last 20 minutes against Japan, we needed that", he said.

Roberto Martinez smiles and reacts to the phrase "There comes a World Cup semifinalist" as he approaches the ESPN team that will talk to him at the Belgium base camp in Dedovsk. "Thierry Henry brings that".

The doubts regarding the extent of French progress in the World Cup was never about the personnel.

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