Balaise Matuidi back in France's only change for semis

Lynette Rowe
July 11, 2018

"We can not follow the path of another Belgian generation that has won the World Cup".

Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen is expecting Kylian Mbappe to be the main threat for France in their World Cup semi-final clash on Tuesday.

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"The potential is there, the individual quality is there, this side is younger than the side that was in the final of Euro 2016 but they have a lot of club experience at [a] high level", he explained. "We just hope he doesn't beat us in this semi-final".

"It is unbelievable. It is the dream of dreams, the dream of the future, everything", said 19-year-old Mbappe, who tormented the Belgian defence with his runs.

As for who they will be backing come Sunday, when France will face either Croatia or ancient rivals England, some in Belgium admit that, for all their closeness to French culture, especially in the French-speaking south, it will be hard to cheer for Tuesday's victors in the "Asterix vs Tintin" derby.

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"I think our style is a little bit different in the national team".

Henry, who won the 1998 tournament with Deschamp on home soil, works as assistant coach with the Red Devils.

Hugo Lloris made arguably the save of the tournament to keep intact France's halftime lead over Uruguay on Friday and Thibault Courtois" tip-over save from Neymar near the end of Belgium's 2-1 triumph over Brazil later the same day drew a "Hand of God' headline in the Belgian press the next morning. "It's an advantage on both sides, but we will seize every opportunity to reach the final".

Fellow pundit Alan Shearer felt that while players such as Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann give Didier Deschamps" team something special, victory over Belgium also showed the French are "streetwise'.

After winning successive French league crowns with Monaco and then Paris Saint-Germain, he announced himself on the global stage by knocking Lionel Messi's Argentina out of the last 16 with his brace in the 4-3 win.

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