World Cup diary 2018 – Tuesday 10 July

France v Belgium: Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg

Two European teams whose first International clash was way back in 1904, when the teams played out a 3-3 draw in the Stade du Vivier d’Oie in Uccle and who have been regular opponents since. They have met in World Cup Finals tournaments previously, the first back in 1938, hosted by France, was a sixteen-team knock-out competition, with no group stages. France played Belgium in the First Round in the Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris, winning 3-1. Their second encounter was in Mexico during the 1986 Finals, when they met in the Third and Fourth Place Play-off game in Puebla, with France emerging 4-2 winners AET.

Many pundits consider that this is the stronger of the two Semi-Final games at this tournament, and you would be hard pressed to argue against that as there are more big-name players in the French and Belgium squads than those in their English and Croatian counterparts.

France have disposed of Argentina and Uruguay in the knock-out phase, whilst Belgium have seen off Japan and Brazil. The French were impressive in putting out Argentina, whilst Belgium in the first-half were excellent in defeating Brazil. If Belgium can repeat that showing then I think they will have too much for France, but as this World Cup has proved, nothing can be taken for granted.