France and Belgium battle for place in World Cup final

web_photo_Kylian Mbappe_05072018

Kylian Mbappe (C) of France during a training session of the France national team at Glebobets Stadium, Istra region outside Moscow, Russia 04 July 2018.

JOHANNESBURG – France will unleash the attacking talents of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann against Eden Hazard&39;s gifted Belgium side in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday with a place in the World Cup final at stake.

The semi-final match of the European neighbours promises to be full of intrigue as France aims to reach the final for the first time since a Zinedine Zidane-led team did so in Germany in 2006.

Belgium will be seeking to break new ground by reaching the final for the first time in their history -- they have only reached the semi-finals once before, in 1986. The winner will face either Croatia or England, who play on Wednesday, in Moscow&39;s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.

With Eden Hazard pulling the strings and Romelu Lukaku providing the firepower, Belgium have what it takes to beat France. But France have an uphill as one of their greatest players, Thierry Henry will be on the sidelines. Henry is Belgium&39;s assistant to head coach Roberto Martinez.



Former Arsenal and Barcelona forward Henry was part of the French squad that won the World Cup on home soil 20 years ago and played 123 times for his country, scoring 51 times. Now it is his job to help halt the run of his home nation.

Martinez explained how Henry&39;s experience of pressure moments offered something other members of the former Everton manager&39;s staff could not.

"What we didn&39;t have was international 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," the Spaniard said.

Belgium&39;s Kevin De Bruyne said Henry had talked little about his feelings.

READ: Germany top rankings, Belgium rise to third

"Perhaps he will sing the Marseillaise (before the game), which I find normal. It might be a bit difficult for him but he&39;s working for Belgium now, he wants us to win." De Bruyne said.

Belgium&39;s confidence will be high after they knocked out Brazil in the quarter-finals and they are the only team to have won all their matches in Russia, top-scoring with 14 goals.



Didier Deschamps&39; France side failed to fire in their group matches but burst into life with a 4-3 demolition to Argentina as Mbappe overshadowed Lionel Messi and confirmed his arrival as a new superstar of the game. The French then showed their steel in the 2-0 disposal of Uruguay in the quarter-finals.

France are favourites because of their mix of youth and experience allied to tournament nous after they reached the Euro 2016 final.