OVERLOOKING the Gulf of Finland, the Krestovsky Stadium awaits a football classic on Tuesday evening.
Both teams know they would be strong favorites to finish the job in Russian Federation against either England or Croatia in the final, meaning it could be now or never for the pair to fulfil their undoubted promise.
France booked their place in the semi-final with a comfortable 2-0 win over Uruguay, while Belgium's route here saw them defeat five-time winners Brazil in the quarters. Belgium, on the other hand, are trying to make history. Now, with well-orchestrated teamwork, the "golden generation" is determined to fight for the championship.
"Geographically, we share a border", France captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said at the pre-match news conference on Monday. It's been absolutely brilliant, with so many thrills, spills, scalps, upsets and VAR-related talking points to keep us gripped over the last three weeks.
Not to mention Romelu Lukaku and N'Golo Kante who have also starred in Russian Federation. Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, team-mates at Manchester United, would be coming face-to-face.
"There is a big rivalry between France and Belgium, it's like a derby match", said France striker Olivier Giroud ahead of Tuesday's last-four meeting in St. Petersburg.
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They are trained by Didier Deschamps, who won the Cup in 1998 as a player and is now trying to do the same as a coach. "However, during the match, there will be no friendship". Meanwhile, Belgium won Group H, beat Japan (3-2) in the round of 16 and then stunned Brazil (2-1) in the quarterfinals.
Thierry Henry: What is his record with France? It also gives Antoine Griezmann space to roam. For him this game could be hard but he is working for us now and he wants us to win. There isn't a philosophy to the French play, their style of play derived from the personnel they have.
Roberto Martinez summoned Dries Mertens from the bench and the change almost reaped instant dividends when the Napoli winger's cross was headed narrowly wide by Fellaini. He is more proactive than reactive.
However, what poses as reason for excitement for the French is that winning ugly is a true sign of champions.
Deschamps also took a jibe at Martinez. To ask Vertonghen on the left to deal with Mbappe alone might be a false move, a two-man team might work better on the teenage French forward. "They do it well, they do it fast".
Belgium, the tournament's top scorers, have not reached this stage since 1986 when they finished fourth. "They are a fantastic team".
Aliyu Danbaba, another football fan, wished if it were possible for Henry to stay away from the venue of the match and watch it in privacy, where he would be free to express his emotions, instead of hiding his true feelings out of respect for both countries.
The semi-final represents the best opportunity for the current crop of Belgian stars to reach their true potential.