Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Hazard to go up against adopted France of his hero Zidane

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Shannon Reynolds | 10 July, 2018, 20:56

But under Martinez the team are finally threatening to make good on their moniker and turn the tag into something more tangible in the form of the 18 carat World Cup trophy.

In France, sports shops were rapidly selling out of the national soccer strip on Tuesday as fans got ready for the semi-final showdown in St. Petersburg. France were defeated by West Germany whilst Belgium fell victim to the brilliance of Diego Maradona and Argentina.

This combination of pictures shows Belgium´s forward Eden Hazard (L) on July 2, 2018 and France´s forward Antoine Griezmann on June 21, 2018.

The Belgian team, which leads the tournament scoring in Russian Federation with 14 goals in its five World Cup matches, will rely on someone with an intimate knowledge of France on Tuesday: former France striker and current Belgium assistant coach Thierry Henry.

Thierry Henry has never been slow coming forward - on or off the field - but the odd thing is that he has only ever given one interview in his role as what the Belgian FA call "the second assistant" to manager Roberto Martinez.

In Belgium's corner will be France's 1998 World Cup victor Thierry Henry who is now a member of the Belgian coaching staff.

Now it is his job to help halt the run of his home nation. "But tomorrow, as a professional, he will be channeling all his passion into the Belgian team". Kevin De Bruyne combined with the ex-Chelsea man to score a thunderous strike past a hapless Allison, dominating proceedings in an advanced false 9 role.

"Maybe he'll sing La Marseillaise, which I would find normal", said De Bruyne.

"It might be a bit hard for him but he´s working for Belgium now, he wants us to win".

When: Tuesday, 2 p.m.

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Belgium beat France 4-3 the last time the teams met in a friendly in June 2015 in Paris, when Marouane Fellaini scored twice.

"I think 1-0 for France, 1-0 in 90 minutes".

They also lost the 2006 final to Italy on penalties, though experience won't be a factor given that not a single player left in the tournament has ever reached the showpiece before. On the other side is France, a world soccer titan vying for its third finals appearance in the last six World Cups.

"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.

His goal against Argentina, in the 4-3 win that marked the moment France truly arrived at World Cup 2018, is one of the strongest contenders in an exceptional "Goal of the Tournament" field and he has a notable record to try and maintain.

"When you have such a solid foundation, you have the basics and clear understanding of what we want to do and achieve, it´s not a surprise that it´s going well for us". There isn't a philosophy to the French play, their style of play derived from the personnel they have. Harry Maguire's brilliant aerial performances so far this tournament, culminating in him winning 22 headers against Sweden and Colombia, would suggest Jordan Pickford's goal won't be regularly troubled.

France are favorites heading into the match, with an all-star attacking line boasting Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud.

'This time it is much higher.

Deschamps had appeared cautious to allow players such as Mbappe free rein early on in Russian Federation, but there is the growing feeling that he is now offering more attacking licence to a team so rich in talent going forward.

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