France vs Belgium
Competition: 2018 World Cup finals
Date: 10 July 2018
Kick-off: 20:00 CET
France made things look easy against Uruguay. Scored the opener before the end of the first half, made it 2-0 in the 61st minute, and just… managed the game after that, taking perfect advantage of the fact that their opponents were playing without Edinson Cavani, a – more than – key player. Some said they were lucky to find Uruguay on their worst day. Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera made a mistake (in France’s second goal) very uncharacteristic of him. Others said Didier Deschamps’ team played their best game in the finals against the best opponent they’ve faced up to now (Uruguay). I agree mostly with the latter. Deschamps has all his players at his disposal. Lloris, Umtiti, Varane, Hernández, Kanté, Pavard, Pogba, Griezmann, Mbappé and Giroud look set to start. The only doubt has to do with Tolisso and Matuidi. Deschamps will have to choose one of the two.
Belgium have been praised for years now for having a truly spectacular generation of players, and they seem to have matured enough, collectively, to be considered a real World Cup contender. They were one of the very few teams that won all three games in the group stage. They came back from two goals down against Japan, scoring three goals in the last 25 minutes in the round of 16. Last but not least, they eliminated Brazil, going 2-0 up in the first 30 minutes. They needed Thibaut Courtois to make some fine saves towards the end of the game, and Brazil to miss some incredible scoring chances, but they still won 2-1, and not just any team, but the one that many considered top favorites to lift the cup. As Roberto Martínez, their Spanish coach said, “Belgium are more ready than they have ever been to make it to a World Cup final”. Right-back Thomas Meunier played an excellent game against Brazil, but is out due to cards. Martínez is expected to “send” Toby Alderweireld to the right. The other 10 should be Courtois, Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Witsel, Fellaini, Chadli, De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku.
Previous five matches:
Uruguay vs France 0-2
France vs Argentina 4-3
Denmark vs France 0-0
France vs Peru 1-0
France vs Australia 2-1
Brazil vs Belgium 1-2
Belgium vs Japan 3-2
England vs Belgium 0-1
Belgium vs Tunisia 5-2
Belgium vs Panama 3-0
The winner of this semifinal will face the winner of the other semifinal between Croatia and England. The defeated will play for the third place against the defeated of the other semifinal.
France vs Belgium: Head to head Stats
France and Belgium have met a stunning 73 times in the past, with the Belgians having won a few more games, 30 to 24. Another 19 matches have ended in a draw. Total goals, 160-127 for Belgium. In World Cup finals they have played against each other twice before, in 1938 (France won 3-1 in the round of 16), and in 1986 (another France win, 4-2, in extra-time, in the third-place match). In the 21st century they have met only in friendly games, five. Belgium have won twice (including that 4-3 three years ago, their most recent encounter), France have won once (back in 2004), and two matches ended in a goalless draw.
France vs Belgium: Prediction
France are considered slight favorites to win in 90 minutes and stronger favorites to qualify, but I’m backing Belgium to make it to the final. At any case, I expect at least three goals in the 90 minutes.
France vs Belgium: Betting Tips
Belgium’s double chance is at 1.55. “Over 2.5 goals” is at 2.10. “Belgium to qualify” pays the same, 2.10.