Culture&Arts

Blaise Matuidi returns for France, Belgium draft in Mousa Dembele

Blaise Matuidi returns for France, Belgium draft in Mousa Dembele

France is slightly favored over Belgium in their first competitive meeting since 1986.

After winning back-to-back penalty shootouts to reach their second-ever (1998) World Cup semifinal, Croatia's tank will be closer to empty than any of the four sides still competing in Russian Federation, but Modric believes they can dig deep once more and qualify for the final.

However, the Manchester United boss singled out Pogba, his charge at Old Trafford, for particular praise, heralding the player's "mature" performance but also criticizing numerous Belgian players for "hiding" on the biggest stage.

"I'm not saying that I'm not proud of what we did all together 20 years ago". De Bruyne just missed out on end-of-season honors from the players' and writers because of Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah's goal glut. A feeling that we could do more and better, a feeling that probably Hazard was out of it, because he tried absolutely everything.

There are concerns that fatigue could be a factor for Zlatko Dalic's side, given they were forced to come through 120 minutes and penalties against both the hosts and Denmark in the last two rounds. But they are much better than that.

France will be at full strength ahead of this game. They defended well, the were compact.




France started the tournament in Russian Federation slowly, struggling for goals in the group stages but hit their stride in an impressive 4-3 victory against Lionel Messi's Argentina in the first knockout round. Even though France has a young team, they also have a very experienced player on the team, the goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris.

"When Deschamps took off Giroud to bring on N'Zonzi, then Pogba had more freedom but had freedom not to do silly things, he had freedom to keep the ball away from risky areas, to keep the ball, to assist Griezmann for a great chance, he was very very mature". From a corner, the defender beat Belgium's Marouane Fellaini to the ball and expertly angled it into the back of the net with the side of his head for what would be the game's only goal.

Follow Al Jazeera's coverage of the World Cup 2018 here. "Set plays", the former Porto and Real Madrid coach said. "This is not how you are going to move forward". But though Belgium has the accomplished Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, France has equally brilliant players in Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.

On Wednesday, the Croatia vs. England game is also being broadcast on a combination of Fox and Telemundo. "That's why I don't think the performance came down to individuals". "So the players that are playing now they all had one match less than Croatia to play", he said.

After the match, Belgium boss Roberto Martinez said his team wanted to win the third-place play-off to finish the tournament "on a real high".

In some ways, this scenario is typical of Belgium and France, where the one that always gets the lesser attention and has the 11 million people (next to France's 67 million) finally finds its way to its second World Cup semifinal and first in 32 years with its luminous generation, and winds up getting attention for having a superstar No. 3 manager from ...


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