The World Cup semi-finals get underway with France taking on Belgium in what promises to be a cracking match. The pair saw off South American opposition in the last round to make it a European final four and whoever wins this game will be favourites for the World Cup. The French will start as slight favourites in Saint Petersburg but both nations will feel confident after excellent results last time out.
Didier Deschamps men came through unscathed against Uruguay who had been very dogged and determined opposition in Russia. France weren’t at their best but they managed to get the job done, as they have managed in all of their games so far, with Antoine Griezmann scored the decisive goal to make it 2-0 after Raphael Varane opened the scoring with a header. Other than that, it was a fairly uneventful game but France deserve credit for that. Whilst Uruguay were without Edinson Cavani, the resolute Les Bleus backline barely gave Luis Suarez a sniff.
Meanwhile, Belgium were superb against Brazil, defying the odds to reach the semi-final. Roberto Martinez was brave in his tactical approach with Romelu Lukaku playing from a right-forward position and Kevin De Bruyne occupying a more advanced position and both decisions paid off spectacularly. The pair were terrific and in the first 45 minutes they were too much for Brazil to handle. In the second half that changed and the Samba Boys made it very nervy in the end but ultimately Belgium deserved their historic win.
Here we will give you France vs Belgium betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key players and a France vs Belgium prediction for the last four clash.
Our France vs Belgium Prediction: France 2-1 Belgium
Our France vs Belgium prediction tips is for the French to just about edge what should be a very entertaining game to book a place in the showpiece final in Moscow on Sunday.
The reality is that these two sides both have plenty of matchwinners and it could be a case that whoever delivers on the day will get the results. With Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba on one side and Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Lukaku on another, it really is a moutwatering clash. However, where we feel the French have a slight edge is their overall team. They are balanced, have skill, pace, power and score goals in a variety of ways, whereas Belgium may have to play a perfect game to get ahead and are also missing Thomas Meunier which is a blow.
Additionally, France still give the impression they are playing within themselves at times. They are a team that has little to no weaknesses, strength in depth and have a lot of quality in attacking areas even if they don’t always show it. They stepped up when needed against Argentina to come from behind in the last 16 and could have another gear in them tonight.
Our recommended tip – BTTS
Despite thinking France will edge this game, there’s no doubting the quality that Belgium have. They are more than capable of winning and certainly more than capable of scoring.
They showed that attacking talent against Brazil and in this form Lukaku is unplayable, whilst De Bruyne and Hazard looked at their best last time out too. Quite simply, if those three are on form then Belgium have a chance against anyone, including France. Deschamps men haven’t been without fault either. They conceded three against Argentina and last time out they were seriously helped by Cavani’s absence.
Going forward, they have a similar embarrassment of riches with Giroud, Griezmann and Mbappe a major threat, along with Ousmane Dembele and Nabil Fekir from the bench. Given that, despite the general cagey nature of semi-finals, there should be goals in this fixture and we think BTTS is a safe bet for the punters as there is just too much quality on both sides for them not to net.
The clash in Saint Petersburg will be the latest in what has been a regular international fixture. It’s the 74th meeting between the close nations, with the first match way back in 1904. Despite that, it’s only the third meeting at a World Cup and France have won the previous two.
As mentioned, France haven’t always been brilliant so far in Russia, particularly in the group stage. They were qualified after two games but wins against Australia and Peru were far from convincing before a dull draw with Denmark. Next, they showed their attacking talent against Argentina, winning a 4-3 epic and then beating Uruguay by two goals.
Meanwhile, Belgium have won every game so far in Russia and have probably been the best side to watch and are the top scorers. They took maximum points from a relatviely easy group, beating Panama and Tunisia comfortably before edging past England in what was effectively a reserve game. Next up, they managed to complete a remarkable comeback against Japan when they were 2-0 down with 22 minutes left before sealing victory with the final kick. That form continued against Brazil as they defeated the favourites to win 2-1.
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Players to watch – Kylian Mbappe & Romelu Lukaku
Mbappe’s real moment of quality in the World Cup came against Argentina where he terrified them with his explosive pace, dribbling ability and movement. He really was unplayable. And, with Jan Vertonghen, naturally a centre-back, starting on the left side of Belgium’s defence, Mbappe will spot a potential weakness. He has shown that despite his age he can mix it on the biggest stage and this is another chance for the PSG man to shine and to take his country to a World Cup final.
Manchester United forward Lukaku has been the standout player at the tournament to some and will want to maintain that fantastic form. He hasn’t scored in the past two knockout games but his influence on the team is undoubted. His selfless running, excellent movement and pace and power has been a major reason for Belgium’s success and he will need to replicate that form in Saint Petersburg.