Hazard to go up against adopted France of his hero Zidane

S AFP EPA REUTERS

S AFP EPA REUTERS

Didier Deschamps' side, the beaten Euro 2016 finalists, had to withstand a late onslaught from their opponents but held on and will now have the chance to win their first World Cup in 20 years. Victory against France - a team against whom they have historically, and somewhat surprisingly, enjoyed an upper hand; of their 73 games Belgium have won 30 to France's 24 - will only add to their growing legend.

Belgium's returning first-team players made a sluggish start against the Samurai Blue and suddenly found themselves trailing by two goals with time ebbing away.

While many England fans are surprised by the unheralded team's progress, midfielder Dele Alli says the squad always believed they could go far.

However, their backline will face its biggest test yet against a Belgian team that are top scorers at Russian Federation 2018 with 14 goals in their five games, with the strikes coming from nine different players - a record in diversity shared with the French team of 1982 and Italian side of 2006. Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were already close friends before becoming colleagues at Manchester United.

The promise of Kylian Mbappe has delivered with three goals while replacement fullbacks, Theo Hernandez and Benjamin Parvard have cemented their place in the starting XI. Defeated Japan in the round of 16, 3-2. "For sure, I would rather him being with us and giving me the advice, but you can't be jealous, and it is not shocking me at all", said French forward Olivier Giroud, about Henry, reported Reuters. "However, during the match, there will be no friendship".

France vs Belgium: A 'Final Quality' Match
With Eden Hazard pulling the strings and Romelu Lukaku providing the firepower, Belgium have what it takes to beat France . It's going to be a thrilling match no doubt and don't be surprised if this one ends up going the full distance.

A significant feature of Belgium's tactics in the quarter finals was the wide role Hazard played.

Henry is the second assistant coach to boss Roberto Martinez. "It's not the Thierry Henry show; I am here to help the squad". It also gives Antoine Griezmann space to roam.

On Tuesday, it will be Henry versus France and Henry versus Deschamps, his former teammate for both France and Juventus. There isn't a philosophy to the French play, their style of play derived from the personnel they have. Then he scored the decisive goal in Belgium's 2-1 victory over Brazil in the quarterfinals with a searing, low shot into the far corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.

Martinez, on the other hand, is a coach who lays emphasis to handsome, attacking football. Now he's playing for a great French team and in the Champions League. The 26-year old also claimed one cross and completed nine passes. "This current crop of Belgian players knows each other and they play at some of the top clubs", he said. "We're ready to go to war with him". "Personally, I have little contact [with him]".

Otherwise, there was respect and admiration in equal measure. That perhaps there's such an abundance of talent on the side that it's essentially been able to beat every team set out in front of it without really needing to get out of third gear? "They do it well, they do it fast". An estimated 3M-5M more likely watched on giant screens in bars and town squares throughout the country, which at this time of year especially in the south is flooded with Belgian tourists.

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