Belgium and France face off in mouth-watering semi-final

2018 FIFA World Cup Prediction: France vs Belgium

France qualified for the 2018 World Cup final with a 1-0 win over Belgium in Saint Petersburg.

Roberto Martinez introduced an extra attacker in Dries Mertens in an attempt to turn the tide and he almost had an immediate impact as his cross was headed inches wide by Marouane Fellaini.

'I prefer to lose with this Belgium than win with that France, ' said Hazard afterwards. "They played a great game against Brazil with a specific game plan", said the 49-year-old Deschamps. The attitude of the players was brilliant and we couldn't ask for anymore. I have not yet experienced that a striker plays so far from goal.

The Red Devils' best chance late came after Hazard was tackled on the edge of the box, the ball spilling to Axel Witsel who forced France's impressive goalkeeper Hugo Lloris into a punching save.

Belgium was attempting to reach their first-ever final after defeating favorite Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Martinez responded by throwing winger Dries Mertens into the mix in place of midfielder Mousa Dembele, leading to another shake-up in their formation. That first goal was going to be vital.

Belgium controlled possession early on with Eden Hazard the biggest threat.

Centre-back Samuel Umtiti's 51st-minute header from a corner gave France a 1-0 win, as they defended deep to close it out and reach a third World Cup final.

Where and how to watch the live TV coverage of FIFA World Cup 2018 match?

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"We could easily have frozen".

At the ongoing World Cup as well, Henry has shied away from media attention even as journalists are quizzing Belgian players about the experience of working with the Arsenal great.

"We have to get rid of this feeling and finish on a high as that is nothing more than the players deserve, not to leave with a sour taste".

'We wanted to get to the final, the players showed a real togetherness and focus and when the result is not there you can not be anything but disappointed'.

"On paper, statistically we are a better team", Oleffe said of Belgium, and the numbers do seem to back him up.

But Belgians will now wonder if they have seen the best chance for this talented generation of players to win a major global title.

After a cagey opening, Paul Pogba's ball over the top nearly created an opportunity in the box for Mbappe before the same combination a few minutes later saw Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois forced to race out and smother a throughball before Mbappe could get on the end of it. 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.

"We can not follow the path of another Belgian generation who won a World Cup".

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