Umtiti rises highest as France vanquishes Belgium to reach World Cup final

France and Belgium fight it out for World Cup final place

Umtiti rises highest as France vanquishes Belgium to reach World Cup final

In a game that has been dubbed as "The Final before the Final", France and Belgium will determine which team will become the first side to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final.

"Geographically, we share a border", France captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said at the pre-match news conference on Monday.

Belgium is likely to retain the same tactical formation against France, considering the latter's midfield prowess and threat from wide regions.

As World Cup fever builds at home, England are avoiding the hype as the coach Gareth Southgate prepares his team in their tranquil base near Saint Petersburg for their first semi-final since 1990.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez says his French assistant Thierry Henry is the missing ingredient his team need in their World Cup bid, as the two nations prepare to meet in Tuesday's semi-final.

Which team do you think will advance to the final?

Enigmatic and controversial, Paul Pogba makes it into the starting XI here.

In what could be the most controversial pick of the team, Antoine Griezmann edges out Kylian Mbappe for this last attacking role. "It's not the Thierry Henry show; I am here to help the squad". France forward Antoine Griezmann shouted during the post-match celebrations.

Coming to Henry's defense was former team mate and fellow World Cup victor Emmanuel Petit who slammed the criticism of Henry as "a load of rubbish".

Much was made about France's lack of depth in full-back positions, but Lucas Hernandez has proved a solid addition to the squad.

He had been brought on when Belgium were in dire straits and was involved at the beginning of the decisive counter-attack, which came from a Japanese corner, and applied the finishing touch after sprinting the entire length of the field. There isn't a philosophy to the French play, their style of play derived from the personnel they have. We know there are going to be hard moments, and we'll have to be ready to suffer. "On the personal front it is with great pleasure that I'm going to see him tomorrow".

"It is weird", said Deschamps, "because he is French and that he will be on the bench of the opposition".

Lloris added: "Belgium are a very exhaustive team ... one that can attack and defend".

Belgium enjoyed its first foray forward in the third minute, with De Bruyne in the center of the action.

While, Martinez isn't expected to mirror the entirety of his masterplan against France, this newfound setup is the ideal marriage between Belgium's high-flying offensive interplay and resoluteness at the back with the Alderweireld-Kompany-Vertonghen trio coming to the fore against one of the tournament's most potent attacking threats in Brazil. 'We know there will be some tough moments in the game, and we'll have to be ready to suffer. "There is a lot of respect between us". Kevin De Bruyne combined with the ex-Chelsea man to score a thunderous strike past a hapless Allison, dominating proceedings in an advanced false 9 role.

He compared Henry's early steps in coaching to those followed by Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid before he took the top job and went on to win three Champions League titles in a row.

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