Belgium's golden generation falls short again at World Cup

France Belgium graphic

France Belgium graphic

France and Belgium have met over 70 times, but the stakes were never as high as they are on Tuesday.

Belgium captain Eden Hazard says that France's Kylian Mbappe is already a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or.

"In the beginning of the match I was a bit surprised by such recommendations, and I thought to myself: if we defended against Brazil with only two players, things might get complicated". I don't think it's a case of us not being focused enough.

Paul Pogba has dedicated France's World Cup semi-final win over Belgium to the young footballers rescued from flooded caves after an 18-day ordeal in Thailand.

Belgium, the tournament's top scorers, have not reached this stage since 1986 when they finished fourth.

"My disappointment is huge", said former Wigan and Everton boss Martinez.

"It's essential to have a player like Kevin - that he can play different roles, " Martinez said Monday, on the eve of the semifinal. The right-back is doubtful for the match but Benjamin Pavard has stepped up at this tournament and put in great shifts and even scoring one of the greatest goals in the tournament against Argentina. De Bruyne just missed out on end-of-season honors from the players' and writers because of Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah's goal glut. "That's the quality that he has".

France coach Didier Deschamps said he was delighted to have the chance to bury the pain of the Euro 2016 final, which his side lost on home soil.


Belgium's chances of stopping their opponents are dented by the absence of suspended right back Thomas Meunier but Deschamps believes his charges are equally capable of adapting to any situation.

Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard completed six dribbles in the first half while the other 21 players completed eight dribbles between them.

"Will they do something similar for us?"

Kompany, an injury-prone 32-year-old who may well have played his last World Cup in Russian Federation, believes that, despite the loss, the class of 2018 has done his nation a favor.

There will be a "hunger to win" and a desire to show Henry that he picked the wrong side, France forward Olivier Giroud said.

The Barcelona man's 51st-minute winning header made him the third French defender to score at this tournament. However, Deschamps confidently said that everyone would be available for the semi-final.

Les Bleus will now take on either England or Croatia in the final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the sides hard to separate on paper, how they handle the pressure, and perhaps those little nuggets of inside knowledge, could make all the difference.

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