Now down to only four teams, the first semi-final clash in the FIFA World Cup pits powerhouse France facing off against heavyweights Belgium in what should be a mouth-watering clash.
Both teams were heavily favoured to go deep in the tournament and they have done so in impressive fashion. However only one spot is left and expect fireworks when these two teams battle for the victory.
Early odds show that the Frenchmen are slight favourites but nothing is certain especially at this stage of the tournament as both nations have shown their talent and class especially in the knockout stages.
Here are a few talking points for both teams as they wish to advance, and who is likely to move on to the final.
FRANCE IS A WELL-OILED MACHINE
Blessed with so much talent in the squad, France have the look of a real World Cup contender.
It has been on full display as they have won all but one of their matches in the competition, with the only smudge in their record as a 0-0 draw against Denmark in the group stages.
In their knockout stage opener, the French battled runners-up Argentina and it was apparent from the start that they were a gear ahead of the South Americans as they were simply quicker to the ball and often stifled the Argentine defence.
Kylian Mbappe was superb in the game as he scored a brace to help France win 4-3 and set-up a quarterfinal meeting against Uruguay.
In the quarters, they faced a well-balanced team but had a bit of luck as Uruguay were without striker Edinson Cavani who was out due to injury.
The French took advantage and two goal on either halves showed that they had the discipline in the back and the visible threat up front to overcome a team who had elite defence in Uruguay.
Now they face their biggest threat yet in Belgium but it appears that Didier Deschamps’ men are ready to show their dominance and return to the top of the World Cup stage.
BELGIUM’S GOLDEN GENERATION
Though the French have looked close to unstoppable, the Belgians have been a little better considering they have won all their World Cup matches to date.
In the group stages, they swept the competition, including a 1-0 win over another team in the semi-finals in England and scored nine goals in their group.
Faced off against Japan in the round-of-16, the Belgians first sight of adversity appeared when they went down 2-0 against their Asian rivals.
Undeterred, the Belgians bounced back and found two goals in a span of five minutes to level the score before Nacer Chadli’s winner in the 94th minute of the game sent them to the semis against Brazil.
Against another tournament favourite, Belgium were disciplined against the South Americans and an error from Brazil gave the Europeans an early lead. Kevin De Bruyne doubled their lead and it would prove vital as they progressed to the final four with a 2-1 victory.
It appears that coach Roberto Martinez has helped the team achieve the heights that were expected of them and they will face another stiff challenge against the French.
This should be a very intriguing match-up given the depth of talent that these two teams have.
France have the personnel to take this game wide open, especially with Belgium being sloppy on the defensive end at times. The French have also shown their stout defensive nature in their own third of the pitch which will prove vital against the Belgians.
Meanwhile, the Belgians have the players who can produce a moment of magic to turn the game to their favour in a moment’s notice. They have also gotten production and performances from many players so France might have trouble finding one specific player to stop.
With this, Belgium may have the tougher road ahead, but if they play their style of football they can play the role of the capable underdog and beat the mighty French team and book a spot in the final.