Belgium star Hazard: I used to support France growing up

Belgium

France have steadily improved as the tournament has progressed and are now starting to justify the hype surrounding their presence at this year's tournament. They have kept three clean sheets from five matches and been largely untested thus far - even against the likes of Argentina and Uruguay.

It's semi-finals time at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with all four teams eyeing a place in Sunday's final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia.

Both sides will be on cloud nine after their previous victories, so this one is poised to be a clash of epic proportions. Roberto Martinez's men arrive to the semifinals with a lot of momentum their way heading into this match, but France is not going to be an easy opponent.

Didier Deschamps' side began the tournament as one of the favourites and unlike some other much-fancied teams - Germany, Spain and Brazil - they have lived up to it. The last time the two were involved in a Manchester derby, Pogba inspired a scintillating United comeback for a 3-2 victory. Kylian Mbappe stole the show, scoring twice in a breath taking display.

But when France played host to Belgium in Saint Cloud in April 1906, the French secured revenge by winning 5-0.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and France No. 1 Hugo Lloris could be busy. His goal against Argentina, in the 4-3 win that marked the moment France truly arrived at World Cup 2018, is one of the strongest contenders in an exceptional "Goal of the Tournament" field and he has a notable record to try and maintain.

In their quarter-final encounter against Brazil, Belgium were imperious. But the 27-year-old burst onto center stage in knockout matches as Martinez pushed him into a more attacking position.

In typical Martinez style, Belgium's ultra-fluid attacking lines make them wide-open defensively, a situation that isn't helped by the presence of Alex Witsel at the base of midfield and Vincent Kompany in defence.

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"This time, in an worldwide match, it is much higher".

In addition to playing a fearless match, the former Everton boss pinpointed the importance of a collective display from a side in which many of its players have been together with the national side for years. Jan Ceulemans opened the scoring for Belgium 11 minutes in, before France levelled with a strike from Jean-Marc Ferreri. However, things will be far more complicated for France this time around.

Hours away from what will be the most important game in his career and for the national team he now coaches, a semifinal clash against France in Saint Petersburg, Martinez looks affable, relaxed and confident.

Sports Illustrated: "Calling this one is immensely hard".

Deschamps will also be happy to see Blaise Matuidi back in contention after he missed the quarter-final due to suspension.

That has led David Trezeguet, a World Cup champion and former teammate of Henry's, to make a prediction of his own: Griezmann and teenage teammate Kylian Mbappe won't only succeed Henry, they'll surpass him.

Belgium will be hampered by the fact their first choice wing-back Thomas Meunier is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the competition against Brazil. He has been crucial to Belgium's success and he will be a big loss for the Red Devils.

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