France vs Belgium: All you need to know
France and Belgium will kick off the penultimate round of the tournament and this game promises to be an epic encounter between the two of Europe's heavyweights.
France steadily found their form as they stepped into the knockout stages of the tournament whereas their counterparts, Belgium is yet to be defeated in this tournament.
With the amount of young talent in both the squads, one is hoping to see a goal-fest. France will be hoping to get into the finals for the first time since 2006 whereas the young brigade of Belgium is yet to advance into the last round of the World Cup in their history.
France Team News
Djibril Sidibe is still an injury concern but Didier Deschamps would prefer Pavard to start after his impressive displays on the right side of the defence. Didier Deschamps has a selection headache as Blaise Matuidi is allowed to feature after serving his one-game ban due to the accumulation of yellow cards. Corentin Tolisso played in his place against Uruguay as France defeated them 2-0 but Matuidi may come back into the side to help Kante and Pogba in the midfield.
France's Key Players
Kylian Mbappe - 19-year-old, the most important player? YES! The PSG teenager has established himself as one of the first names on France's team sheet.
His performance against Argentina was magical where he destroyed the South American's defence with his pace. None of Argentina's players was able to catch him as he went onto score two goals and won a penalty. With left-back still a dilemma for Belgium, Mbappe has a good chance to run to the defenders and create havoc in Belgium's penalty box.
Hugo Lloris - Belgium has scored the most goals in this World cup and that was bound to happen because of the quality of players they have in their final third. Lloris made an amazing save against Uruguay, diving to his right, just before the half-time.
If France wants to play in the final, Loris needs to perform to his best. We know that how good he is, the only question is about his silly errors and inconsistent performances.
Results so far
France 1-0 Peru
France 2-1 Australia
France 0-0 Denmark
France 4-3 Argentina
France 2-0 Uruguay
Belgium Team News
Beating Japan after being two goals down in the quarterfinals and then defeating the World cup favourites Brazil, is some achievement for the young team of Belgium.
Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Meunier is suspended for this significant clash which is a big worry for Roberto Martinez who lacks any apt replacement for the right-wing back. One solution for him will be to use Carrasco at the right-wing spot but using a winger at a deeper role, especially against a team like France will be a huge gamble.
Belgium's Key Players
Romelu Lukaku - Arguably, he has been the best player for Belgium in this World cup. His performance at the right-wing against Brazil was delightful.
Roberto Martinez may use him in that role again but whether he plays at the wings or as the striker, his main duty will be to create chances and score goals. He is only two goals behind and has an amazing chance to grab the golden boot.
Kevin de Bruyne - Manchester City's playmaker has carried his club form into this tournament. He was forced to play in a deeper role but the game against Brazil proved that how lethal he is when allowed to play in his natural position.
Roberto Martinez used him as a false nine which gave him the liberty to initiate all the counter-attack and then spread the ball to the flanks where hazard or Lukaku were waiting to make a run.
He remains the catalyst for his nation against France and his performance will be a key factor to decide whether the red devils can make it to finals or not.
Results so far
Belgium 3-0 Panama
Belgium 5-2 Tunisia
Belgium 1-0 England
Belgium 3-2 Japan
Belgium 2-1 Brazil
France 4-2 Belgium
Goals! The names which are expected to be on the team sheet are the best talents in the football world. Both teams have power, pace and trickery in their final third which indicates that there will be goals flying in the game.
With the suspension of Thomas Meunier and lack of good defensive options at the flanks for Belgium makes France the favourites to progress to the finals.