“We are almost in the final,” these thoughts are in everyone who support either Belgium or France. The fans of the “Red Devils” remember with joy their team from the 1986 World Cup when Jean-Marie Pfaff, Franky Vercauteren, the Van Der Elst brothers, Enzo Scifo and the captain Jan Ceulemans made history winning fourth place and many football fans fell in love with them.
Now Eden Hazard accompanied by Man United and Man City stars Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne are leading the country to new heights. Big Rom is second in top goal scorers list while de Bruyne proves why he is one of the best players in his position. Defenders Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are like a wall in front of the phenomenal Thibault Courtois.
Easy wins in the group were followed by a spectacular comeback after being t0-2 down against Japan. Upsetting the biggest favourite, Brazil, will definitely boost their game but the Belgians must play at their very best if they want to rewrite the history and reach first ever World Cup final.
4 – Brazil have now been eliminated by a European nation in each of the last four editions of the World Cup (France 2006, Netherlands 2010, Germany 2014 and Belgium 2018). Exit.#WorldCup #BraBel #Bra #Bel pic.twitter.com/cSAzbQX1q8
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 6, 2018
France, the country that has given us some of the best players in the history of football – Michel Platini, Eric Cantona, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry and many others. From this generation we can add Antoine Griezmann, Hugo Lloris and youngsters Kylian Mbappe and Benjamin Pavard. That’s right – Benjamin Pavard. The right-back in Deschamps’ formation was not so popular before the tournament and maybe surprisingly made the final squad but his positioning and pace are key for France.
Les Bleus did not impress in the group stage but against Argentina and Uruguay they showed their killer instinct. France is considered the strongest contender left in the competition but they haven’t won a major tournament since 2000 (Confederations Cup in 2003 is not included). The 2006 WC final and Euro 2016 finals are still remembered by the fans but a title will put back smile on their faces.
41% – According to Opta’s predictor model, France are favourites to win the 2018 #WorldCup, with a 41% chance of lifting the trophy. Connection.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 9, 2018
Both teams know each other very well because many of the players play in the same championships and some of them are teammates in club football. Roberto Martinez hasn’t lost a competitive match since losing to Sunderland while managing Everton back in 2016. Having Thierry Henry on his staff is another factor that can be key to success.
3 – Top 3 Win % at the World Cup among the managers involved in this edition:
100% 🇪🇸 Roberto Martinez / Belgium 🇧🇪 (5/5)
71 % 🇩🇪 Joachim Löw / Germany 🇩🇪 (12/17)
70 % 🇫🇷 Didier Deschamps / France 🇫🇷 (7/10)
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) July 9, 2018
On the other side Didier Deschamps want to relive the days when he captained France to the World Cup triumph in 1998. His side is looking for redemption after losing the Euro final two years ago.
It is expected to be a very interesting match with both teams going for the gold and Saint-Petersburg is Rubicon for France and Belgium if they want to climb the football Olympus.