Hazard to go up against adopted France of his hero Zidane

Ruben Hill
July 11, 2018

It's the third time France has reached the final in the last six World Cups.

"England was one of the favourites for me for the tournament because they have a young and hungry team with no big, global stars, so it won´t be easy for us". France are favored, but Belgium could make several changes that could tip the scales.

They are the only side with a 100% record in this year's World Cup and the way the dispatched Brazil in the quarter-final was very impressive.

Looking at the Opta stats used to power Sky Sports Fantasy Six-a-Side's scoring system, we pick out the players averaging the most points per game in Russian Federation so far...

Martinez replicated his tactic at Everton of deploying Romelu Lukaku as a right-winger against the adventurous Marcelo, leaving the Manchester United forward to torment Miranda and kickstart a plethora of counter-attacks.

"The peculiarity is that there are many players on my team who have club teammates facing them".

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger has got people talking over his allegedly "sour" and "seedy" appearance when spotted in the stands enjoying the World Cup semi-final match between France and Belgium.

Didier Deschamps´ France side failed to fire in their group matches but burst into life in the 4-3 demolition of Argentina as Mbappe overshadowed Lionel Messi and announced his arrival as a new superstar of the game.

Deschamps and Belgium coach Roberto Martinez will have a tactical duel on the sidelines of the pitch.

Thierry Henry was also part of that victorious France squad in 1998. France forward Antoine Griezmann shouted during the post-match celebrations.

Southgate has told his players they have the potential to be bigger heroes even than the team featuring Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton that win on home soil in 1966. His other World Cup performances have yielded high points totals too, with a notable 96 points coming from his shutout against Denmark.

Much was made about France's lack of depth in full-back positions, but Lucas Hernandez has proved a solid addition to the squad. They know how to attack well. "I don't want to offend him but he has benefitted from the work done by [former Belgium coach] Marc Wilmots. On a personal level it is with great pleasure that I'm going to see him tomorrow".

"It is weird", said Deschamps, "because he is French and that he will be on the bench of the opposition".

France keeper Hugo Lloris, a Golden Glove candidate in Russian Federation, had nothing but positive things to say about the Belgium squad.

But it was one moment in the game in particular that impressed Murphy. He did not play in the final at the Stade de France, but was in the team which won the European Championship final against Italy two years later in Rotterdam.

Belgium have undeniably been the standout side in the tournament, scoring a total of 14 goals in five matches. "There is a lot of respect between us".

He compared Henry's early steps in coaching to those followed by Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid before he took the top job and went on to win three Champions League titles in a row.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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