In football, anything can happen.
Outcomes of several matches at Russia 2018 has further proven that this popular saying among football fans is eternally true.
“The big teams are home,” Croatia Coach Zlatko Dalic said. “The teams who are hard-working, compact, united and well organized, they are here in Russia. This is the character of the four teams remaining in the tournament.”
The favourites Germany, Brazil, Spain, Argentina and Portugal are all gone. We have four European teams – France, Belgium, England and Croatia, – left to prize-fight for the 2018 World Cup.
What has unfolded in the last three weeks in Russia can be neither explained in full nor casually dismissed as something that has happened for reasons only known to the soccer gods and perhaps history.
Football fans and analysts will explain the unlikely outcome in another popular dictum: “That’s football.”
With the four teams in the semi-final, they stand a chance to play at the final of the tournament in Moscow on Sunday the 15th and any of them can win the trophy. They’re all superb and hardworking, several dogged displays by them so far.
Here, we take a look at the match the impending duel between the marauding French army and the tactically-aware Belgian warlords.
France vs Belgium Preview:
The first semi-final game is a clash of two titans, embedded with a star-studded line up with breathtaking attacks, boasting of names capable of changing the game scenario in seconds.
After France’s victory over a strong defensive team like Uruguay, it will be generally acceptable to say they are defensively sound and efficient in front of goal.
They are still unbeaten in the competition8 and will seek to march on with so much confidence, which has made Coach Didier Deschamps boast.
“I have a high-quality squad,” he said.
But if the Deschamps is boasting of the high-quality squad because of the unbeaten run, then his opponent, Belgium are a “super high-quality squad”.
They have scored more goals than any team in the competition and has more wins than France.
It will be interesting to see what approach Roberto Martinez takes with his back line.
Prior the 2018 World Cup, he stuck to a back three. But against Brazil, Martinez chose a four-man defence with Vertonghen at left-back. The approach worked but will it succeed against France’s pacy and skilful forwards – Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele?
France might dominate the midfield with their fast and intelligent midfielders, but the Martinez’s tactics that worked for Belgium against Brazil might expose Le Bleus’ weak points and can harm them like it did to Brazil.
The Red Devils ability to move the ball quickly from back to forward line means Ngolo Kante, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi may have little time to organize themselves against imminent danger.
The reunion of two outstanding Chelsea teammates might play a pivotal role in the game. Belgium’s best player Eden Hazard. France’s solution provider: Ngolo Kante.
Romelu Lukaku and Kelvin De Bryne are other energies to be reduced if France wants to go through.
While Belgium might fly with their best forwards, France will be hoping for another double show off from their men, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, who have both scored two goals each in their last two games.
It is a hard one to decide but it is a game and a winner must emerge.
Belgium will proceed! (France 1 vs Belgium 2)