Kevin De Bruyne’s versatility paying off for Belgium at World Cup

Tuesday, 10 Jul, 2018

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. There's still a sense that he could be doing more with the brilliant set of players at his disposal, France frequently a fairly stodgy team to watch, relying on moments of brilliance from Pogba, Mbappe or Griezmann.

Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne: "When you reach the semi-finals of a World Cup you're never going to find ordinary opposition".

The winners will progress to Sunday's final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to face either Croatia or England, while the losers will play in the third-place play-off on Saturday.

A significant feature of Belgium's tactics in the quarter finals was the wide role Hazard played.

Of the 73 meetings between the teams, Belgium have won 30 and France 24, with 19 draws between them, although if Belgium are to reach their first World Cup final they will have to do so by beating France at the tournament for the first time.

But their secret weapon could be on the sidelines in the shape of one of France´s greatest players of all time, Thierry Henry, who is now head coach Roberto Martinez´s assistant.

According to CBS Sports, France is the favorite of all four remaining teams to win the World Cup, with odds of 2-1, although Belgium isn't far off with odds of 11-4. "But tomorrow, as a professional, he will be channeling all his passion into the Belgian team".

On Monday, meanwhile, Belgium's Kevin de Bruyne was asked cheekily if he thought Henry might sing the French national anthem on Wednesday night. "It is a hard situation - weird - it is not easy for him".

When: Tuesday, 2 p.m.

France and Belgium are the two most talented teams left, and they are surely playing well.

In the European Championship final two years ago, France lost to Portugal 1-0.

Henry goes up against former France team-mate Didier Deschamps, the 1998 World Cup-winning captain.

Now he is the talisman in a Belgium team who have won all five games in Russian Federation so far and are undefeated in 24 matches, although as a boy he idolised Zinedine Zidane. "We need to be the best version of ourselves", Martinez said.

I pointed out before the tournament how much his reading of the game has improved in recent seasons - if he is heavily marked, he knows where and when to move to drag his markers to open up space for his teammates.

England´s coach Gareth Southgate (R) and England´s forward Harry Kane celebrate after winning during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Sweden and England at the Samara Arena in Samara on July 7, 2018. There isn't a philosophy to the French play, their style of play derived from the personnel they have.

Croatia can count on Real Madrid´s midfield talisman Luka Modric, named man of the match three times in Russian Federation, but his teammate Andrej Kramaric says England´s lack of superstars is what makes them a cohesive unit. With a haul of 86.5 points last time out against Uruguay, thanks to a clean sheet and superb defensive performance, the Stuttgart full-back has been one of France's most consistent performances, earning 47.5, 62 and 36.5 points in his other tournament appearances so far. He was their leading scorer in the World Cup when the country won its first and only world title as host nation in 1998, despite not being a regular starter and only 20 years old at the time.