Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018 | Belgium and France to face-off in mouth-watering semi-final

Eden Hazard reveals he's been speaking to Kylian Mbappe on the phone

Eden Hazard reveals he's been speaking to Kylian Mbappe on the phone

World Cup favorites France is targeting the final in Russian Federation two decades after their 1998 triumph with one of its greatest players, Thierry Henry, plotting its downfall from the dugout of opponents Belgium.

The precocious talent of the young Hazard did not pass unnoticed at Clairefontaine, the France Football Federation's elite forming school, and overtures were made to try and persuade him to represent his adopted country.

But some doubt whether he has the desire to back up his vast talent and challenge Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the world's best player.

The first of the semi-finals will pit European heavyweights against each other, as France and Belgium meet at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

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 back-three of Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany and Toby Alderweireld were at their most impressive thus far against Brazil. After emerging from a relatively easy group, the Three Lions scraped past Colombia on penalties and beat Sweden 2-0 on Saturday, to book its first World Cup semifinal in 28 years.

"There is a lot of respect between us".

Mbappe has been one of the standout stars of France's surge to the final four in Russian Federation, scoring three goals and turning in a series of electrifying performances.

At the quarterfinal rounds, Hazard was spot on after tipping Belgium's Red Devils to overcome Brazil's Selecao as well as France beating Uruguay. If France wins, he can not celebrate; it is the same if Belgium wins.

Thomas Vermaelen considers Belgium to be genuine World Cup title contenders.

"This is the only one (photo) going". Mbappe is being extensively praised by football observers from all over the world right now, with Belgium's Hazard deeming the 19-year-old a strong candidate for the Ballon d'Or award.

The likes of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann could pose a serious threat to a Belgian defense not exactly blessed with pace, but Didier Deschamps's men will have to be wary of Belgium's attacking trio. Belgium are [3.25] to win.

Sean Wagner-McGough's take: After picking Belgium to upset France, I'm taking Croatia to upset England. That was the last competitive match between the two countries but there have been eight worldwide friendlies since.

They never lost a single game playing for France together (21 matches, 16 wins, 5 draws) and won the World Cup in 1998 and the Euro in 2000. Prediction: Belgium 3, France 2.

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