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

FRA VS BEL

France is back in the World Cup final for the first time since Zinedine Zidane's headbutt in 2006. He also wasn't the only Belgian player to disappoint on the night.

France coach Didier Deschamps has faced some criticism for being too pragmatic and functional despite having so many stars in his squad, but the organization of the team was superb and Belgium was largely restricted to only minor chances that were kept out by the flying Lloris. "I do not have the words", Mbappe said to TF1. And for me, big occasions, big players, and numerous players they were not there in the big occasion. However, things will be far more complicated for France this time around. They scored a goal that probably is Fellaini is the last man to touch it but the they score and they try to control the game which basically they did. That's their right. They know when an opponent plays very deep, that's where we have problems.

He joined the Belgium setup in 2016 just after Martinez was appointed and reportedly set to work immediately with forwards Romelu Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi.

A very technical match was decided by a lapse in concentration and a header in the second half by Samuel Umtiti, who got ahead of Marouane Fellaini and his header flicked off the Belgian's curls past Thibaut Courtois for the only goal that decided the match between the neighbours. The World Cup equivalent of a local derby, with a heavy dose of national rivalry thrown in. And when you are in the comp like this where cumulation of fatigue counts, you have just to recover, the its very hard to recover.

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"It's a super exciting game with great players on both sides", France defender Benjamin Pavard said.

France sat back and looked to use the pace Mbappe on the counter attack but were nearly caught out as Hazard forced a wonderful tackle from Varane and Lloris had to beat away a vicious shot on the followup from Witsel.

The Chelsea forward's next effort was arrowing into the top corner until it flicked off Raphael Varane's head and deflected just over.

Two of the most gifted attacking teams around produced a spectacle that would've been worthy of any final, a thrilling, back-and-forth affair throughout despite a cagey and tension-filled first half. The second semi-final takes place at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.

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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. That familiarity with playing styles could affect how these teams approach one another in this semifinals match.

As Belgium grappled to locate an opening in the well-worked and meticulous France defence, De Bruyne - the team's soothing composer - lost a bit of his composure as he played a few passes askew, overeager to earn a goal for his team.

It's good the French make lots of Champagne, because with the trophy-winning potential of its team that will play in the World Cup final on Sunday, they could be bathing in the stuff for years to come.

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