|Kylian Mbappé and Eden Hazard have been in electric form. (Image from CBC.ca)
As we approach the semi final stages of this competition, we are faced with a real clash of two titans. Both teams so classy and elegant, and a joy to watch, ones that make the game ‘The Beautiful Game’.
France have been in astonishing form and will have their tails up. They’ve been emphatic in their recent wins, and remain undefeated up until now. Mbappé makes you forget he’s 19 the way he’s banging in goals and running around the place, and there’s strength in depth in every position. Griezmann will be looking to add to the three goals he has too.
La Belgique are a team with pure quality, oozing with confidence and potency when they play. Winning every single game to this point, notably digging deep to overcome a fantastic Japanese effort and cruising past Brazil courtesy of some brilliance in attack and defence. Captain Hazard is firing with all guns blazing, Courtois has been immense and kept his side in on numerous occasions, and De Bruyne deserves a mention for his incredible creative spark.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris.
Big game for the captain, time for him to step up and lead his team like never before.
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (LB), Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti (CBs), Benjamin Pavard (RB).
The most consistent back four around in my opinion, the best options that France have got, given their performances.
Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté (CMs).
Matuidi will be back after sitting out due to yellow card accumulation, a welcome return for the talented defensive midfielder. Pogba and Kanté will be running up and down and contesting for the ball, it’ll be a good midfield battle against the likes of De Bruyne and Fellaini.
Forwards: Kylian Mbappé (LW), Olivier Giroud (ST), Antoine Griezmann (RW).
Mbappé and Griezmann just can’t stop scoring it seems, and with Giroud’s characteristics allowing the team to flow and the attack to play its natural game, this front three will look to cause problems all game long.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois.
He’s made some fantastic stretching saves, his agility and reflexes are outstanding. He’s been world class, and his stature and prowess in goal will prove vital in keeping out shots in this game.
Defenders: Jan Vertonghen (LB), Vincent Kompany and Toby Alderweireld (CBs), Dedryck Boyata (RB).
Meunier is missing this game having picked up one caution too many, he’ll be missed but I feel the
experience and competence of Boyata should fill in well. Big moment for the Celtic lad, though. Kompany, Alderweireld and Vertonghen have the class and ability to be sturdy and complete a solid line of defence.
Midfielders: Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel (CMs), Eden Hazard (LM), Kevin De Bruyne (CAM), Dries Mertens (RM).
Fellaini and Witsel can pack a punch, will be rugged and loom tall over the likes of Matuidi and Kanté. This’ll be fun. De Bruyne scored a delicious goal to book this place in the semi finals, and his all round forward thinking will be a handful for any defence to cope with. Captain Hazard is just on another level; he appears untouchable at times with some of the plays he executes. Mertens is pacy, strong and accurate, a threat.
Forwards: Romelu Lukaku (ST).
The United striker, with four goals to his name and breathing down the neck of Harry Kane, will be eager to find the net. There’ll be no worries about finding the service he needs, though, considering there’s Hazard and De Bruyne in the squad.
France 3-3 Belgium AET, France win on penalties. It has the potential to, and I really want it to be a goalfest. The teams are so evenly matched, I can easily see it going all the way to penalties. I feel France will be more cool and collected to wrap things up and win in a penalty shoot out, just.