Fest possible in France-Belgium semifinal

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Getty Images

Hazard, who has also provided some stellar performances, has scored twice and assisted the same in four matches as Belgium bid to win their first World Cup in their history.

Belgium's come-from-behind win in the last 25 minutes of their second round tie against Japan would have made Roy of the Rovers envious while France produced a venomous sting in their tale to sweep past Argentina, after also finding themselves trailing in the second half.

That match was during the World Cup in Mexico and was a third place playoff after both sides had been knocked out at the Semi-Final stage. But, qualification to the knockout rounds seems to have turned on a switch.

The Three Lions booked their spot in the semi-finals of the competition with a 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday in Samara.

As is the case in the geographic sense, in which France and Belgium share a border, there's no apparent distance between the teams.

For Coach Gareth Southgate and the Three Lions, the Croatia assignment is one they must tackle with all the skill at their disposal to realise their ambition of playing in the finals to bring the Federation Internationale de Football Association trophy home.

Belgium has the edge as it has won 30 of the 73 matches between the two sides, compared with 24 for France. Ahead of their latest meeting on Tuesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the semi-final encounter.

"With Brazil now out of the World Cup, Belgium is at the top of our probability table", Goldman's analysts wrote.

Pogba was ineffective on the night and Didier Deschamps' struggles to fully harness the plentiful gifts of his midfield powerhouse echo at club level.

France have the luxury of having a fully fit side and Blaise Matuidi is back from suspension after missing out against Uruguay.

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He has also been capped 34 times by his country, and also represented England at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 European Championships.

Not particularly noticeable during games, Henry is rarely seen next to Martinez or his No 2 Graham Jones in the technical area. Lukaku is on four goals and France's Griezmann and Mbappe have three each.

N'Golo Kante vs.

It feels faintly absurd to favourably compare a midfield diamond featuring Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli with France's but the goal of that set-up is to get the best from their more accomplished players. But, the star man has been Benjamin Pavard, who will look to keep an in-form Eden Hazard quiet on Tuesday.

Right wing-back Thomas Meunier is suspended for Belgium, so a defensive reshuffle will be required. For Chadli, in particular, FIFA World Cup 2018 has been a redeeming tournament for him, after copping a lot of flak upon his selection in Belgium's final squad.

An intriguing battle this will be down England's right flank.

"But money isn't playing, Ferrari isn't playing, watches aren't playing, just 11 against 11 warriors in the World Cup". Hazard has been a key figure in Belgium's free-scoring approach. Romelu Lukaku's physicality can trouble any defence.

'But yes maybe he is going to sing La Marseillaise.

"In the beginning of the match I was a bit surprised by such recommendations, and I thought to myself: if we defended against Brazil with only two players, things might get complicated". Then last week, it predicted a Brazilian victory, only this time against Croatia.

Belgium has never been to the final of a World Cup, but that's exactly what they look poised to do as the highest-ranked team (No. 3 in the latest Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings) left in the tournament. Quatre-vingt-dix in France is widely termed nonante in French-speaking areas of Belgium, as well as in Switzerland.

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