A few hours before the first semi-final of the World Cup between France and Belgium, find the analysis and challenges of the meeting signed by our special envoy in Russia.
From Sedan to Mouscron via Bouillon and Tourcoing, the pressure rises everywhere and especially in the barrels. The hectoliters of beer flow between the two borders, north and south of two countries in celebration since last weekend. The story will knock on the door. More than 2,500 kilometers away, the French and Belgian stars will compete for the 74th time (24 wins, 30 defeats and 19 draw seen from the French side) in a match that will not be trivial in the city of Tsars.
A first final for the Belgians?
This semifinal of the 21st World Cup will be the biggest battle in history since May 1, 1904, between these two neighbors and friends. St. Petersburg will leave a fabulous horizon far beyond the Baltic. The sky will perhaps be haloed by a new final for the Blues, the third in twenty years after 1998 and 2006. The French are already in their sixth half (1958, 1982, 1986 and therefore 1998 and 2006). Only three nations did better with Germany (12), Brazil (8) and Italy (7). The legend is also reaching out to Belgium. The Red Devils play the second semifinal of their history after 1986 and the defeat in Mexico against Argentina (2-0). They are therefore at a maximum of one hundred and twenty minutes of an unprecedented feat.
Thierry Henry in perfect spy
If the Blues are on the pace of their Euro, the Belgians rebounded even higher after the slap Welsh in France in the quarterfinals (3-1). “But it was a cold snap against Wales, warns Didier Deschamps. Belgium was one of the best teams on the group phase in France. She has the potential. It’s a generation that knows itself. There is only to watch the players and where they evolve. They are in the best European clubs, especially in England. They have also lived together. ” The heads were still fallen after the disillusion of 2016. The Belgians have made a reset of their staff, exit Marc Wilmots, for the expertise of Roberto Martinez associated with Thierry Henry as deputy.
Both of them are very familiar with the Premier League, where the overwhelming majority of the Belgian team are playing. “Titi”, top scorer in the history of the France team with 51 goals, is the perfect spy to make a crooked leg to his ex-teammate Didier Deschamps. Both know the road to be world champion. They had this success in 1998 and want to repeat the feat twenty years apart.
France-Belgium: 15 players play in the Premier League
In 2000, they also won the title of European Champion. Belgium was a host country. There are many shortcuts between the two. Even more between the two selections that have learned to live together. This meeting of neighbors in St. Petersburg has never worn his label as well. This holiday should be beautiful between old friends of long standing. All these beautiful people know each other very well to play for the most part every day. Especially across the Channel. Fifteen players from both teams rub shoulders with Chelsea (Kanté, Giroud, Courtois, Eden Hazard, Batshuayi), Manchester United (Fellaini, Lukaku, Pogba), Manchester City (Mendy, Kompany, De Bruyne) and Tottenham (Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Lloris, Mr. Dembélé). Others are seen every day in Barcelona (Umtiti, O. Dembélé, Vermaelen) or in France at PSG (Areola, Meunier, Kimpembe, Mbappé) and Monaco (Tielemans, Sidibé, Lemar). It will not be wrong to the shirt. But according to the qualifier, some should support the others in the final in Moscow.
The Blues with Matuidi
The Russian capital will be the last stage of a journey of one month and seven matches. To see the majestic Loujniki stadium and erase their memories of their worst match against Denmark at the end of the first round (0-0), the Blues will be well in the face against the Belgians. Didier Deschamps will renew his team of this World Cup, the one born against Peru (1-0) and who seduced the world with his spectacular victory in the round of 16 against Argentina (4-3), the most beautiful match sixty already played in Russia. DD relies on the return of Blaise Matuidi, suspended against Uruguay (2-0), in the left lane of his midfield. The 4-2-3-1 system should not move. Offensive animation should not vary around the Griezmann-Mbappé-Giroud axis in this hybrid system that leans offensively to the right and defensively to the left. The Blues will rely on their new magic square behind and on the “screw” N’Golo Kanté that balances the game in all directions. One of the duels of this match will also concern the two extremes between Lloris and Courtois, undoubtedly the two best goalkeepers of this World Cup.