France beat Belgium's 'golden generation' to reach World Cup final

27-year-old looks like a man on a mission to bring the WC trophy for the first time in the country’s history

"There is still one more step to take, but we are proud of what we have done". Who will come out on top?

Preview: France look to return to the final of the World Cup for the first time since 2006, while Belgium look to confirm the promise of their "golden generation" and reach the final for the first time. The match kicks-off at 20:00 hrs (BST) at Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg.

Belgium ultimately didn't do enough in the game to produce its own goal, and France is deservedly in its third final going back to 1998.

Belgium continued to throw men forward as they chased an equalising goal but the defence from Les Bleus was standing firm. Even more when France proceeded to keep cool, defend with the utmost expertise and protect its lead for more than 40 minutes.

"It's been two years to try and understand these footballers, the human beings behind the footballers, and to try and get a group that shared the same ambition, not just to use the national team to improve their brand", Martinez told a news conference.

France have improved as the tournament has progressed and go into the game as slight favourites. Deschamps will recover Blaise Matuidi, who missed the quarterfinals game vs Uruguay due to a suspension.

De Bruyne nearly found Lukaku in the box in the 28th minute but Samuel Umtiti was quick to clear the danger. France were in the final of the Euros, but I don't want any of my players to be frustrated or disappointed.

Hazard's willingness and ability to carry the ball under pressure, jinking past helpless defenders, was in evidence as Belgium claimed their greatest-ever World Cup scalp by beating Brazil in the quarter-finals. With his partner at the back, Samuel Umtiti, still just 24, France has a central defensive pairing that should frustrate attackers long into the future. Will Belgium be up to the challenge?

The former Everton manager will have a big absence since Thomas Meunier is out due to suspension.

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In Belgium's corner will be France's 1998 World Cup victor Thierry Henry who is now a member of the Belgian coaching staff. Notable: Kylian Mbappe is the first teenager to score twice in a World Cup match since Pele did it against Sweden in 1958.

Friends and foes at the same time?

Paul Pogba, at 25, is curbing his natural exuberance, his playground-football instincts and putting in more sober, stable performance in the midfield.

Lukaku has enjoyed a great World Cup so far - following on from scoring 27 goals in his first season with Manchester United.

One place where residents have no choice but to put those differences to one side is Comines, a town that sits right on the Franco-Belgian border, split by the river Lys.

Belgium had won all five matches in Russian Federation coming into their meeting with the French, and had scored 14 goals in the process.

Both sides know what is like to turn results around during the current World Cup campaign.

With Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard in fantastic form creating chances for themselves and Romelu Lukaku up front, Vincent Kompany fit again at the heart of the defense and Thibaut Courtois standing tall in goal, these Red Devils racked up more goals than any other team in the World Cup. Both matches happened during the Round of 16.

"I would be very proud to show Thierry that he chose the wrong camp". One where the stakes will be extremely high between two attacking-minded sides.

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