France say Thierry Henry in ‘wrong camp’ for World Cup semi

France v Belgium Pogba and De Bruyne confronted by Zidane's path to greatness

France will square off with Belgium in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final match at the Krestovsky Stadium in Russian Federation on Tuesday at 7:00pm.

The European neighbours meet in Tuesday's first semi-final in Saint Petersburg for the right to play England or Croatia in Sunday's showpiece in Moscow.

"It will be freaky to have him up against us", forward Olivier Giroud said.

Vertonghen is the only Belgian player with 100 worldwide caps, and the 31-year-old's looping header sparked a dramatic fightback in the 3-2 victory over Japan in the last 16.

"He brought us tighter together with more belief of winning it", said the Manchester City midfielder.

On a Belgium team packed with so much talent that it's known as the Golden Generation, De Bruyne is one of the standouts along with striker Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard. It's a World Cup semi-final that has all the ingredients of becoming one of the most memorable clashes in history.

Target man Olivier Giroud is expected to start against Belgium and again provide a foil for Mbappe's pace and Antoine Griezmann's playmaking, while Paul Pogba - solid in midfield - will line up alongside the omnipresent N'Golo Kante.

"What we didn't have was global experience, the know-how of winning a World Cup, the know-how of being a footballer, how you are expected to perform in front of the world and knowing how you feel in those moments", Martinez said on Monday.

One favorite will advance to the 2018 World Cup final, while the other will see their dreams come to an end. On each of those occasions the tournament has been hosted in Europe.

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Croatia will be physically and emotionally exhausted after back-to-back penalty shootout victories, which hands a clear advantage to England should they make a quick start to the game on Wednesday. The pair, both 22, have only 20 global appearances between them but are playing with good composure. There could also have been a fascinating duel on the wings between French teen sensation Kylian Mbappe and his PSG team-mate Thomas Meunier but that won't happen since the Belgian is suspended for the game.

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Captain Harry Kane is the man leading England's charge in Russian Federation with six goals so far, putting him top in the race for the Golden Boot.

They will now aim to stop Lukaku adding to his tally of four goals in the tournament.

"Maybe he'll sing La Marseillaise, which I would find normal", said De Bruyne.

"There are also multiple big screens in the dinner hall where the players can look at their individual images from the games and we work together with Dutch SciSports, who specialise in statistics that provides the Red Devils with a small report about the strengths and weaknesses of the next opponent".

Croatia, who boast Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic in a strong midfield, emerged through extra-time and spot-kicks against Denmark before going through the same ordeal again against Russian Federation in Saturday's quarter-final.

"He'll be happy if we win because above all else he is a Frenchman", the 22-year-old left-back said.

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