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France take on Belgium for a place in the final

10 July 2018

"Everybody must understand that it is not Henry's making that his home country and the team he now works for, should meet at any point in this tournament, so everyone must be sensitive and show understanding", he said. France and Belgium will face each other on July 10, 2018 in Saint Petersburg in the World Cup semifinal.

"We wanted to get into the final", he said. Until then, stay with us for all the build-up a soccer fan could ask for.

Meanwhile, France coach Didier Deschamps is confident he has prepared his players for any tactical surprises his opposite number Martinez might spring.

"He motivates the troops with strong words", Pavard said.

"We know them and they know us", said Deschamps. "They're good in the air and on the ground". Henry may have a confined role, but he is part of an admired coaching team, led by Martinez, who have been tactically dynamic in the tournament, sometimes in adversity, as when substitutions rescued a 2-0 deficit against Japan; sometimes very proactively, when some radical changes, in formation and deployment of key players, underpinned a famous victory, against Brazil in the last eight.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez brought Henry into the Belgium set-up two years ago to impart not just his knowledge of goal scoring he is France's all-time top scorer with 51 goals in 123 appearances, and Arsenal's with 228 but also his experience of winning with a team weighed down by great expectations.

The 28-year-old from relegated West Bromwich Albion is one of 11 players in the Belgian squad members based at English clubs, to add to five in the French line-up. The youngster's pace, power, skill and clinical finishing has seen him compared to the likes of Thierry Henry and the Brazilian Ronaldo.

Martinez's tactics have stood out, too.

"He will suffer emotionally; nobody prays to be in this kind of situation; he wont want to be seen supporting Belgium against his home country and he can not be with Belgium and be openly supporting France". It is a tactic that has become a hallmark of both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur over the last two years.

Since Le Bleus' title success at the 1998 World Cup on home soil, Le Bleus are yet to have their hands on the title, though they came close at the 2006 edition but missed out in a dramatic penalty shootout against eventual victor Italy. But Lloris appeared to be at his commanding best in the quarterfinal win over Uruguay, rushing off his line to push away a low cross and later making a superb low save. Marouane Fellaini, who has oft-partnered Pogba in the United midfield, will now be looking to stop the powerful Frenchman. An attacking trio of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard could take apart any defence in the world. "The best is Hugo".

Belgium has finally lived up to the hype surrounding them!

Meunier is suspended after tripping Brazil star Neymar and earning a second yellow card of the tournament.

Only time will tell if their burgeoning partnership will come to the fore against Belgium's brilliant attacking trio of Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku.

France take on Belgium for a place in the final