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Joe Cool

2018 FIFA World Cup - France Le champion du monde

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Semi-final 1 - France vs. Belgium

Time: 19:00 BST

Venue: Krestovsky Stadium

 

Roberto Martinez has urged Belgium to "play without fear" in their World Cup semi-final against France, and given his bold approach in the stunning win against Brazil, it is clearly a mantra he believes in.

 

MATCH FACTS

 

Head-to-head

  • France have won all three of the previous meetings at major tournaments, including two World Cup encounters.
  • The French won 3-1 in the first round of the 1938 World Cup, which they hosted, and 4-2 after extra time in the third-place play-off in 1986. The latter game in Puebla, Mexico, is the most recent competitive match between the sides.
  • France also beat Belgium 5-0 in the group stage of the European Championship in 1984, with Michel Platini scoring a hat-trick in Nantes.
  • Belgium are unbeaten in the last three friendly games (W1, D2), winning the most recent encounter 4-3 in June 2015. Marouane Fellaini scored twice in that game as the Belgians raced into a three-goal lead inside 50 minutes.
  • This will be the 74th match between the sides. Belgium have claimed 30 wins, with 24 victories for France and 19 draws.

France

  • This will be France's sixth World Cup semi-final. They were beaten in their first three (in 1958, 1982 and 1986), but have won the last two (1998 and 2006).
  • Excluding shootouts, France have lost just one of their last 13 knockout games at the World Cup (W10, D2). That defeat was their 1-0 loss to Germany in the quarter-finals in 2014.
  • Antoine Griezmann has scored seven goals in his last six knockout matches at the World Cup and European Championship.

Belgium

  • Belgium's only previous World Cup semi-final ended in a 2-0 defeat to eventual winners Argentina in 1986. Diego Maradona scored both goals.
  • They also lost their only European Championship semi-final, losing 2-1 to West Germany on home soil in Antwerp in 1972. Gerd Muller scored twice for the Germans, with Odilon Polleunis replying for the Belgians.
  • Belgium did reach the final of the European Championship in 1980 (again losing to West Germany), but they did not contest a semi-final, instead advancing directly after winning their group.
  • The Belgians are unbeaten in their last 24 games (W19, D5) and have won their last seven matches.
  • Belgium's haul of 14 goals from their first five World Cup games is the most at this stage since Brazil in 2002 (15 goals prior to the semi-finals).
  • They have had nine different goalscorers in Russia (excluding own goals). The only teams to have had more at a World Cup are Italy (2006) and France (1982) with 10 each.
  • Romelu Lukaku has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 13 games for Belgium (17 goals, 3 assists).

Hopefully, Belgium can pull this off. 🙏

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I think France will win the cup this time beating England in the final . 

They were unfortunate to lose in the Euros to Portugal and have improved since then . Plus Griezmann is yet to hit peak in the finals and this is the right time for him to step up . He has had so many heartbreaking losses in 2 UCL finals and Euro 2016 .  Perhaps this might be his and France's time .

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