Centre-backs Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti star as France reach the final

Centre-backs Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti star as France reach the final

Centre-backs Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti star as France reach the final

But the worrying factor for Croatia or England is that France still look to have another gear to move into.

Speaking after that game, former England captain Alan Shearer said: "The big question about Belgium was 'are you a team of individuals or can you come together as a team?' He has gelled them together".

"It is something exceptional". "I want to win the World Cup - the Ballon d'Or is not my problem". "They are young but they have character, a (winning) mentality".

Minutes after the halftime, Samuel Umtiti led France ahead by scoring a goal from a corner.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez: "It was a close game and it was very tight and it was going to be decided by that bit of luck in front of goal".

Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti and Real Madrid's Raphael Varane have formed a solid partnership in central defence; Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante have been strong in midfield; and Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud offer a pacy and well-balanced attack. Giroud has not scored in eight games and is yet to even have a shot on target in Russian Federation.

Tuesday's clash in St Petersburg has all the makings of a classic, with fans and viewers likely to be treated to the sight of two wonderfully attacking teams going toe-to-toe.

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This fixture is one of the matches that could easily have been the "Final" of this 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation. "I really hope to do it in the final". But Belgium dominated possession throughout the match.

Confidence is sky-high after they beat Brazil in the quarterfinals but they will come up against formidable opponents in France as they try to reach their first World Cup final.

Hugo Lloris was then twice in the action, punching clear from Fellaini and saving at full stretch to deny Toby Alderweireld's shot on the turn as Belgium pressed for the opening goal. Yellow card accumulation resets in the semifinals, so players will no longer be playing in fear of being suspended for their next match. The French earned the chance and executed it perfectly, with Umtiti outjumping Marouane Fellaini to make the connection on the near-post header.

But for Courtois, France's margin of victory would have been greater as he made saves from Griezmann and Corentin Tolisso in stoppage time.

The slick Belgium side, which boasts the talents of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, are the only team to have won all their matches in Russian Federation and are the top scorers, with 14 goals.

Instead, it proved to be another false dawn as France march on to Moscow.

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