Hazard rules out August move

Belgium international Eden Hazard has made it clear that he will not leave Chelsea this month but has not ruled out the possibility of a move next year.

The 27-year-old hinted last month that he could leave Stamford Bridge and there were suggestions that he would be following his international team-mate Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid.

However, even though the Spanish transfer window is open until the end of the month, Hazard has dismissed the possibility of leaving last season's FA Cup winners.

He said: "You know what I said after the World Cup. I'm happy here, I do not want to talk about that yet.

"Many things have been said – nonsense and everything. For now, I'm happy. I still have two years of contract [left] and we'll see what happens. I will not leave [this year].

"The transfer window in England is already closed. We can sell but we cannot sign players. It would be a bit strange for [Chelsea] to let me go and not recruit another player.

"We could see [against Arsenal] that the fans like me a lot. I feel good here. We'll see what happens in a year or two years."

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 on Saturday and can be backed at 12/1 to win the Premier League title this season and at 1/2 to finish in the top four.

Dendoncker keen to help Wolves

Belgium international Leander Dendoncker has completed his season-long loan switch from Anderlecht to Wolves.

The 23-year-old midfielder's move to Molineux will become permanent next summer.

Dendoncker, who made his international debut in 2015, came through Anderlecht's youth system and made 190 senior appearances for the club.

During his time in Brussels he won the Belgian First Division title in 2016/17 and two Belgian Super Cups.

He played 42 games for Anderlecht last season and has represented Belgium on six occasions, including against England in the group stages of World Cup 2018.

Dendoncker, who could make his debut against Everton on Saturday evening, said: "I'm very excited to start. I followed Wolves a little bit last year and saw they did really good.

"I think it's an ambitious club and that's what attracts me the most. I'm ready to give everything. I'll do everything to adapt as fast as possible and help the team in every possible way.

"I'm excited by the challenge. They say the Premier League is like playing in the Champions League every week and I don't think that's a lie. I think the best players are in the Premier League."

Wolves are available at 11/8 to beat Everton and 7/4 to keep a clean sheet against Marco Silva's team.

Courtois dreamt of Real future

Thibaut Courtois says he has fulfilled a boyhood dream by completing a move to Real Madrid from Chelsea, having penned a six-year contract at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 26-year-old Belgium international goalkeeper has ended a seven-year stay with Chelsea to join the reigning European champions and is happy to have made a return to the Spanish capital, having spent three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid.

He said at an official unveiling ceremony: "Arriving at the best club in the world is a responsibility and an honour. Today I fulfil a dream.

"You cannot imagine how happy I am. Those who know me know the effort I have put in to get here.

"My hard work and my feelings have always been about being the best and I have the chance to fulfil a new dream.

"I have dreamt about this since I was a child, admiring those who came on to the pitch to represent Real Madrid. I have been a rival and I know what it is to face Real Madrid."

Courtois won two Premier League winners medals during his time with Chelsea, as well as helping the Blues to success in both the League Cup and the FA Cup, while his time at Atleti took in triumphs in la Liga, the Europa League, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Super Cup.

On the international stage he has won 65 caps for Belgium, helping the Red Devils to reach the semi-finals at World Cup 2018, where they were beaten 1-0 by eventual winners France.

Courtois has been swiftly replaced at Stamford Bridge by Spain international Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has joined for a world record fee for a goalkeeper from Athletic Bilbao.

Meanwhile, Real can be backed at 6/4 to win La Liga next season, with Atleti priced at 10/1 and defending champions Barcelona 3/4.

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Witzel happy with BVB move

Belgium international midfield anchor Axel Witzel believes he is ready to make a big impact by heading back to Europe to join Borussia Dortmund.

The 29-year-old has spent the last 18 months playing in China with Tianjin Quanjian, but has opted to return to his home continent, where he had already enjoyed spells with Standard Liege, Benfica and Zenit St Petersburg.

And, having agreed a four-year contract with BVB, Witzel told the club's official website: "Dortmund are one of the best teams in Europe.

"I think that when you start as a professional, it's always your dream to play in the top leagues, at top clubs, and now I am.

"I'm 29, but for me it's the best age, because I have more experience. I'm ready to help achieve the club's objectives and give my best for the team.

"After the World Cup it was important for me to come back to Europe. I spoke with coach Lucien Favre and sporting director Michael Zorc and they showed me support and love, which was really important."

Witzel was a key member of the Belgium squad who reached the semi-finals of World Cup 2018 and he has won 96 international caps to date.

At club level he has won two Belgian league titles with Standard and a Russian Premier League crown with Zenit.

Meanwhile, Dortmund can be backed at 1/7 to finish in the top four in the Bundesliga this season, with RB Leipzig 8/11 and Schalke 11/10.

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World Cup 2018: The End of an Era or the Start of Something?

From the remarkable story before a ball had been kicked (Julen Lopetegui being sacked as coach by Spain for surreptitiously negotiating with Real Madrid) to the final controversy itself (the extremely harsh, I would say disgraceful decision to award France a penalty), World Cup 2018 provided drama from start to finish.

Whatever World Cup 2018 highlights grabbed your attention—and there were plenty—us followers will surely all agree on one collective aspect.

The perfectly balanced dribbling of Eden Hazard, the quality and imagination of Kevin de Bruyne’s passing, the sheer power and pace of Romelu Lukaku, the menace of Thomas Meunier, the commanding figure of Toby Alderweireld, the calmness of Jan Vertonghen, and the athleticism of Thibaut Courtois.

Eden Hazard anchored Belgium's "Golden Generation" perfectly as they finish top three in the World Cup 2018

Eden Hazard celebrating his “nail in the coffin” goal against England to win the third place honour in the World Cup

That’s seven players (I could have named a few more in the Belgium class of 2018). The country’s so-called ‘golden generation’ who, hopefully, aren’t finished yet.

World Cup 2018 odds suggested they may well reach the semi-finals but, in many ways, they achieved even more.

After a slow start, they eased past minnows Panama and Tunisia, had too much quality for England, came from two goals down to beat Japan in a breathtaking comeback and then produced arguably the most impressive team showing over the month-long festival of football to defeat mighty Brazil.

They were unceasingly compelling, undoubtedly classy.

For me, the image of Lukaku falling to his knees and raising his hands skyward at the full-time whistle after that victory was the photograph of the tournament.

That they were unfortunate to go out to France in the semi-final will remain a personal disappointment for manager Roberto Martinez, his French assistant Thierry Henry, and their legions of fans.

Yet, they bounced back with too much class for England for the second time and their quality was proven as the final individual accolades were announced.

Courtois deservedly won the Golden Glove as the best keeper in the tournament and surely, alongside David de Gea and Manuel Neuer, is now one of the top three in the world.

And then there was his teammate for both club and country, Hazard.

Voted runner-up to Luka Modric, though he probably should have won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s top player for his influence and mesmeric dribbling skills.

Certainly, Belgium’s collective efforts were recognised back home as they were greeted by tens of thousands of fans at the picturesque Grand Place in Brussels.

All 23 members of Martinez’s squad were in attendance as they were personally congratulated by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde.

The pictures told their own stories as supporters climbed street signs, traffic lights—literally anything they could get a grip of—to catch a glimpse of their heroes as an open-top bus parade made its way through the Belgian capital.

The sheer joy amongst players and fans alike showed a country united as they concluded their best ever World Cup.

Now Euro 2020 looks an ideal step for a side in their prime to perhaps go further, with or without Henry who, after giving up his television commitments, has hinted he wants to take the step from number two to manager.

World Cup 2018 has been and up and down ride for Henry as his nation won the tournament but his team finished third

Roberto Martinez and first assistant coach Thierry Henry talking during a Belgium training session

Of course, seven of this 23-man squad are in their 30s and by the time of the next World Cup, optimism may have to be tempered by the fact Kompany will be 35, Vertonghen 34, and Hazard and De Bruyne in their 30s. However, they will still have Lukaku, Courtois and Yannick Carrasco who should all be in their prime by then.

Then there are the players who only featured sporadically at this tournament.

Youri Tielemans only featured for 97 minutes throughout the tournament, the majority of them in the party meaningless group encounter with England, but has been described by Martinez as someone who represents the future of Belgium. Meanwhile, the likes of defender Zinho Vanheusden and Francesco Antonucci are tipped for big things.

After six wins from seven, the Diables Rouges should be upbeat after their first ever podium finish and a generation that finally did live up to the hype—the individuals who had sizzled at club level finally achieved heights on the international stage.

Midfielder Axel Witsel went further by saying Belgium were the ‘most attractive team to watch at the tournament’ and it was hard to argue.

This was a very good tournament for Belgium, but can the next one be great or was this the pinnacle?

That is the key question.

Is this the end of an era or the start of a new one?

One interesting statistic to ponder:

seven of the past nine nations to have finished third at a World Cup have failed to qualify for the next European Championships.

Surely, Belgium won’t follow that path, right?




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Belgium Finish With a Flourish at FIFA 2018

Belgium 2-0 England

If you had told these nations a month ago they would still both be in Russia during the final weekend of FIFA 2018, they would have bitten your hand off.

And certainly, England have surpassed and Belgium matched FIFA 2018 predictions and expectations by being here.

Yet while all that is true, their Russian odyssey finally ended with a match few wanted to play in.

The dead rubber of a third/fourth play-off which, after their respective semi-final defeats to Croatia and France, both probably felt unmotivated to play.

Highlights of the game

But play they did. And while the pace was a little lacking at times, the intention of both sides to gain the honour of third place was clear.

From the outset in St Petersburg, in fact.

It took only three minutes and 37 seconds for Belgium to open the scoring when Thomas Meunier, returning from a suspension which kept him out of the semi-final, poked home with pace after Romelu Lukaku and Nacer Chadli teamed up.

Both managers, Gareth Southgate and Robert Martinez, were as good as their word pre-match and named strong line-ups with Golden Boot favourite Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku (two goals behind) both starting.

After playing his part in the opener, Lukaku could have doubled the Belgian lead but mis-controlled while Kane hit the ball into the ground and narrowly wide after being teed up by Raheem Sterling.

A fine block by John Stones denied Eden Hazard a likely second. With tired minds and tired bodies understandable, Southgate rang the changes at half-time with the introduction of Man Utd duo Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, making them look a more dangerous proposition.

us fans of Kane would have been thrilled when Belgium brought off Lukaku, his nearest challenger at the top of the scoring charts, to be replaced by Dries Mertens.

The future is bright for England in FIFA 2018

Harry Kane will be awarded the Golden Boot for the 2018 World Cup IF Kylian Mbappe or Antoine Griezmann failed to score a hatrick on Sunday

Unless Antoine Griezmann or Kylian Mbappe runs riot in Moscow, Kane seems set to get the gong and become the first English winner since Gary Lineker in 1986 (although not Kane’s fault, it should be tempered by the fact five of his six goals came against Panama and Tunisia).

It looked like the Three Lions would get the equaliser their pressure merited when Eric Dier beat his man and clipped the ball over Thibaut Courtois only for his Spurs team-mate at club level, Toby Alderweireld, to hook the ball to safety.

Dier and Harry Maguire both went close with headers, and Pickford produced a superb save to deny Meunier his second from a powerful volley.

Moments later, however, it was left to Hazard to provide the real quality as he teamed up with Kevin de Bruyne and, in scenes reminiscent of last season’s FA Cup Final, left Phil Jones in his wake before tucking the ball beyond Jordan Pickford.

Game over, bronze medal secured and tournament over for the best Belgian side ever, according to the statistics. A side which, even before today, had made a nation proud.

Hazard certainly would get my vote for player of the tournament, although that is likely to go to someone from the finalists.

England finish fourth, equalling their best ever achievement at an overseas World Cup (Italia 90) and rekindling the nation’s affection for the national team.

Euro 2020 is next, with the semi-finals and final due to be played at Wembley, but two years is a long time in football.

A new-look qualification campaign begins in March 2019.

So the World Cup ends for two countries who both did themselves proud but can be forgiven for wondering what might have been.

Key statistics

A FIFA 2018 news stat: Thomas Meunier’s goal was the fastest scored by a Belgium player in the history of the World Cup.

He was also the 10th player to score for them at this tournament. Belgium have the joint-most different scorers for a team at a single World Cup (matching France in 1982 and Italy in 2006).

Belgium held the record for the most knockout games at a World Cup without a clean sheet (14). No other side has played more than seven knockout matches without at least one shut-out. They have got one now!

This was the first time since the 2002 World Cup (Brazil and Turkey) that two nations had met each other twice in the same tournament.

What’s next?

Belgium secured a third place finish in FIFA 2018 with a 2-0 win over England in Saturday's play-off game

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez watches England head coach Gareth Southgate during the third place match

It’s homeward bound for both these nations after a long but successful World Cup.

Both can be proud of their progress.

The key question now is can they take it to the next level and reach the final of a major tournament.



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Devils vs Lions: The Other Final or a Meaningless FIFA 2018 Match?

Belgium vs England

This meeting has all the makings of an absolute classic that is even worth to be a final, but with everything over for the two national teams, it’s hard to expect anything.

World Cup Group G standouts Belgium and England meet again, this time in the FIFA 2018 third-place play-off match that many fans and pundits describe as a flawed and meaningless spectacle that should be swiftly abandoned.

Sure enough, a little look at history suggests that it could be a treat to the people who will watch; not to mention that Belgium and England are two of the highest-scoring teams in the competition.

However, the general consensus about the battle for third is that the two nations are just fighting to lose again, with no real big reward waiting in the end. After all, there could only be one winner in the quadrennial affair and all other teams are in the losing end.

Talking Points

Belgium and England are the unlucky semi-finalists, though they both deserved better.

Belgium were unarguably the best team remaining in the competition after the fall of Spain and Germany. Ranked third in the world, the Red Devils topped Group G and even beat World Cup favourites Brazil in the quarter-final to set up a meeting with France.

They produced the best results—five straight wins before the semi-finals—and were always part the FIFA 2018 highlights thanks to their entertaining and attacking style of football.

Meanwhile, England are one of the success stories in the contest. They headed to the tournament with low expectations and surprised everyone with their run to the last four.

The Three Lions’ exploits even sparked an online trend and raised beliefs that “#ItsComingHome.” Nevertheless, after surviving Colombia in the knockouts and breezing through Sweden, they lost to Croatia in a gripping 2-1 semi-final.

Sure enough, they are both strong teams and just hearing the players in their lineup will make every football fan jump in excitement.

Well, that is if this a different situation.

Belgium supporters will still be rooting for their nation to win the FIFA 2018 battle of the third place

Belgium fans looking disappointed as they watch the semi-final match between France and Belgium

Put simply, motivation is now the issue for both England and Belgium heading into this match.

They are set to play for basically nothing, unless they consider a podium finish and some bronze medals as a worthy prize. And hey, in all honesty, who remembers the team that finishes third in this competition?

That’s the cruel reality in football and in the World Cup. It’s either win or go home—and it can be argued FIFA should send these lads packing instead of showing them they no longer have a chance to win the grand prize. It’s just emotional torture.

With nothing left for both nations, it’s likely that fans will witness a repeat of their boring meeting in the group stages.

Belgium beat England in the group phase to get the no.1 spot, but that match-up was far from entertaining after their big-name stars such as Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Harry Kane opted to sit out.

Of course, we could be wrong and Roberto Martinez and Gareth South could end up fielding their best players available. Though, it would be best not to have your hopes up.


If there’s one reason to be optimistic about this game at Saint Petersburg Stadium, it’s the fact that history tells us there will be goals here…and plenty of it!

While it’s still meaningless, the previous third-place matches in the World Cup had lived up to expectations when it comes to scoring. Since 1978, the battle for third had seen three or more goals scored!

In 2010 alone, Uruguay and Germany scored a combined five goals, with the Germans eventually edging the South Americans 3-2. Meanwhile, in 2014, Netherlands thrashed the Neymar-less Brazil 3-0.

On the other hand, over the last 10 World Cups, Belgium and England have featured in the third-place playoff just once. Belgium lost to France 2-4 in the 1986 edition of the game while the Englishmen bowed down to Italy 2-1 in the following World Cup (1990).

What are the odds?

Belgium Roberto Martinez coaching his players during the FIFA 2018 semifinal clash against France

Roberto Martinez talks with his players during their semi-final match against France

As mentioned, Belgium have beaten England before, so it’s no wonder why the FIFA 2018 betting odds back them to win. The Red Devils are tipped with 2.20 to win at 1X2 odds, while England are at 3.20 and the draw at 3.30.

In us Asian Handicap sports betting, Belgium are at -0.25 @ 1.95, with Gareth Southgate’s side at +0.25 @ 1.75—implying that there’s not much separation that is expected between the two nations.

Betting Tip

Belgium vs England Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.04
June 14, 22:00 (GMT+8)

Belgium, obviously, have the better team. They have proven that in their first meeting here. However, it’s noteworthy that the Englishmen have grown in confidence over the last few days and it won’t be wrong to suspect that they will be playing for some respectability.

Everything still depends on the lineup that each nation will use, though Belgium and England have enough depth to make it a high-scoring and tight game.

?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.




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France One Game from Glory at World Cup 2018

It was a nearly night for Belgium.

In the end, the Euro 2016 runners-up had just too much know-how and discipline for their ‘Golden Generation’.

It’s the 1998 World Champions and 2000 European Champions who are poised to claim the world crown.

Les Blues are one win from World Cup 2018 glory.

Highlights of the game

Tactically intriguing, technically gifted, this was an engrossing contest from start to finish.

The World Cup 2018 odds suggested the winner of this semi-final would be favourites to lift the glorious gold globe.

And for many this was the final before the final and a match which evoked memories of Belgium’s only other semi-final when they were beaten by an inspirational footballer considered by many the best of all time.

Some of the best of the current day were on show in the Krestovsky Stadium and Eden Hazard looked the best player on the pitch for the first hour.

He came closest to scoring in the early stages, firing a low shot narrowly wide of Hugo Lloris’ goal and then drilling in a shot which was heading towards goal until Raphael Varane managed to head it just clear of his own crossbar.

Then the Belgian skipper saw Toby Alderwerield swivel in the box only for Lloris, his Spurs team-mate, to superbly claw the ball round the post when it looked like the deadlock would be broken.

Hazard often bamboozled his opponents and when he released Kevin de Bruyne – fresh from his quarter-final winner against Brazil – his cross was about to be converted by RomeluLukaku before a last-gasp clearance from Samuel Umtiti.

Boss Roberto Martinez had urged Belgium to ‘play without fear’ and they were impressing once more with their bold approach, although they didn’t have it their own way, Olivier Giroud guiding a header narrowly wide of the alert Thibaut Courtois’ goal in another club team-mate scenario.

France players and staff rejoice at full-time after beating Belgium in the World Cup 2018 semi-finals

France head coach Didier Deschamps congratulates his players after the victory over Belgium in World Cup 2018 semi-finals

Antoine Griezmann also curled a ball into the lightning quick KylianMbappe who cushioned the ball perfectly for Giroud who then went to ground at the crucial moment and failed to make a proper connection.

Belgium may have started the half stronger but France were in the ascendancy by the end – Courtois, who was superb against Brazil, diverting Benjamin Pavard’s shot away when the opening goal seemed likely.

It was the best chance of the half and Pavard, who could be set for a big club move after a fine tournament, knew it.

us odds remained too close to call but they finally swung towards France five minutes after the restart when Griezmann delivered an inviting corner and Umtiti got to the ball just ahead of Marouane Fellaini and it had too much power at the near post for Courtois.

France may have gained winning World Cup 2018 results to date but there had only been glimpses in burst of French fluency, while Belgium produced arguably the single most impressive display of tournament against Brazil.

Yet this goal flattened Martinez’s men and inspired the men in blue as Didier Deschamps aims to emulate Mario Zagallo (Brazil) and Franz Beckenbauer(Germany) by winning the World Cup as both a player and manager.

A crucial block by Mousa Dembele prevented Giroud from scoring after a cheeky backheel from Mbappe in what was the Chelsea frontman’s first shot on target at this World Cup.

Belgium came back. De Bruyne miscued from 16 yards, Fellaini beat Umtiti to the ball and headed just wide, Axel Witsel drove the ball straight at Lloris, but France were compact and were restricting Belgium for creating clear cut opportunities.

Yet for all their superb play this tournament, when the top scorers in the tournament needed a goal, they could not find one.

Viva la France!

Key statistics

There’s now been 26 goals from corners at this World Cup, the most since 1966.

This was also the 69th goal from a set piece at the tournament out of 158 in total.

This was the Belgians’ first defeat in 25 matches (won 19, drawn five) and ended a run of seven straight victories.

France have now won all four of the previous meetings with Belgium at major tournaments, including three World Cup encounters.

France’s last World Cup semi-final was against Portugal in 2006.

Les Blues triumphed 1-0 with a penalty from Zinedine Zidane, won by Thierry Henry, now Belgium assistant manager.

What’s next?

The World Cup Final now awaits France on Sunday (July 15) in Moscow against either England or Croatia.

Belgium will play the defeated side in that semi-final in the same stadium as this tie in St Petersburg.

The golden generation of  Belgium failed to defeat France in the World Cup 2018 semi-finals

Belgium assistant coach Thierry Henry consoles Eden Hazard after losing to France in the World Cup 2018 semi-finals



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A Giant Clash Deserving of the World Cup 2018 Final!

France vs Belgium

If you told any decent football fan in May that the World Cup 2018 final would be between France and Belgium, no one would bat an eye. Both nations are powerhouses in international football with talented players that are finding success in the best football leagues in the world. If anything, the question of consistency are the only things stopping the two from ever meeting in the final.
However, the football gods have deemed these two giants to clash in the semi-final. As much as any football fan would want these two to make it to the final, the rules deem only one of them as worthy of reaching the final and being a victory away from touching and bringing the World Cup home.
There are questions that are begging to be asked, and this piece will try to attempt some of those. Which man should we look out for? How will each of the sides conduct their attacks? Will Didier Deschamps finally end the World Cup drought of Les Bleus? Or will Belgium’s Golden Generation live up to their name and make it to their first-ever World Cup final?

Talking Points

France have done brilliantly to make it this far in the competition, comfortably beating Argentina and Uruguay in the earlier rounds of the knockout stage. However, there are still questions lingering above the team Deschamps has built can get them to the final and, finally, to the Promised Land.
Sure, Les Bleus have defeated impressive monsters in Argentina and Uruguay, but both of those games come with great asterisks.
The Lionel Messi-led Albiceleste were simply disorganised and left a lot of spaces for the pacey Kylian Mbappe and the rest of the French XI to operate. Meanwhile, Uruguay didn’t have their talismanic strike partnership at full-strength as Edinson Cavani sat out of his country’s quarter-final defeat.
Add in France’s World Cup 2018 results in the group stage, and you have a group that hasn’t done much when it comes to erasing the cynics’ scepticism. They have the good fortune of facing opponents that aren’t at the top of their game.
However, that won’t be the case anymore when these two sides meet at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. Belgium were top-billed as favourites to lift the trophy, and they haven’t done anything to betray the expectations set upon them.
The country’s “Golden Generation” has done nothing but wow their supporters and the neutrals that come to see their games. Save the boring draw against England, the Red Devils have done nothing but score goals.
Their second-half comeback against Japan was nothing short of impressive, and their world-class domination over Brazil highlighted the best of Belgium’s attacking and defending capabilities. Any questions about the nation’s ability to perform when it matters were quickly left in the dust after these two games were played.

Thierry Henry and Belgium are preparing for the World Cup 2018 semi-final match against France

Belgium assistant coach Thierry Henry takes part in a training session of the Red Devils

French legend Thierry Henry finds himself in a weird place for this match. France’s all-time leading scorer and second-most capped player was on the bench as a 21-year-old when he saw Deschamps the player lead Les Bleus to their only World Cup victory. He is currently coaching for Belgium, teaching Romelu Lukaku how to score goals and be effective on the attacking end of the pitch.
If you want players to watch out for, I can give you a couple of names.
Paul Pogba’s laser passes could see Kylian Mbappe dashing past the Belgian defence. Antoine Griezmann is also a danger man that must be accounted for by Belgium gaffer Roberto Martinez. N’Golo Kante is the consistent workhouse that will connect the French attack and defence.
Opposite them are equally talented players. Lukaku is the second-best scorer in the tournament with his haul of four goals. Eden Hazard has time and time again reminded everyone why he is Belgium’s No 10. Kevin De Bruyne is a magician with the ball. Vincent Kompany is leading a terrifying defensive line.


These neighbours have met 73 times in international friendlies and major tournaments, only adding fuel and hype to this much-anticipated match. Belgium are currently leading the head-to-head tally with their 30 wins compared to France’s 24. Their last meeting was in a 2015 friendly, where the French failed to make a late comeback and fall to the Belgians, 3-4.
The French have reached the semi-finals four times, the first one being in 1958. Their last foray in the semi-finals was in 2006 when they saw Portugal off with an effort from Zinedine Zidane.
Belgium, meanwhile, haven’t had much success when it comes to the World Cup. They finished fourth in the 1986 tournament but have not made it back to the semi-finals since then. Their closest brush with the semi-finals prior to this tournament was in 2014. They were seen out by Messi and Argentina in the quarter-finals.

What are the odds?

us has interesting World Cup 2018 odds if you’re looking to make this meaningful match a lucrative one.
Both teams have outstanding players, and goals are not far from happening. If you’re looking for a sure quick gain, Over 2.50 Goals is an easy grab at 2.17 odds. However, Over 1.00 Goals in the First Half Over-Under market is a more lucrative buy at 2.25.

Both Lukaku and Griezmann are ready for the clash between Belgium and France in the semi-finals of World Cup 2018

Strikers Romelu Lukaku and Antoine Griezmann are set to face each other in the World Cup 2018 semi-final match between France and Belgium

If you value consistency in a football team, you’re better off betting with Belgium. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Red Devils overcome the potent French attack with a solid defensive display akin to what they showed against Brazil. Belgium is a must-grab at 2.79 1X2 odds.
However, if you love seeing brilliant football, then France is worth a look. I still have question marks over their ability to show up against really strong opposition, but they have proven in this World Cup that they have to talent to get them through. Look at the Asian Handicap market: France -0.50 @ 2.53 is a hard one to miss.



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Breathtaking Belgium and Brazil Serve Up World Cup 2018 Thriller

Brazil 1-2 Belgium

The Grand Masters against the Golden Generation.

The second-best team in the world against the third-best, certainly according to the FIFA world rankings.

No wonder this fixture was one of the World Cup 2018 matches that had been most eagerly anticipated.

All us predictions suggested excitement and the atmosphere in the Kazan Arena tingled with anticipation.

That should be no surprise when you consider a list of the world’s 100 best footballers published by the Guardian newspaper last December included 10 Brazilians and seven Belgians.

Highlights of the game

From start to finish, the tempo never let up; and the drama quickly arrived.

It was as early as the seventh minute when Thiago Silva was left unmarked and scooped a header against the post – almost in slow motion – and that was the cue for an end-to-end contest.

Nacer Chadli fired wide after good work by Romelu Lukaku; Paulinho miscued with the goal at his mercy; Marouane Fellaini toe-poked a shot which was deflected wide.

From the resulting corner, Eden Hazard delivered into the danger zone, and the unfortunate Fernandinho saw the ball hit his shoulder and into his own net.

It was the 11th own goal at this tournament.

A side that had conceded just once in four games and had kept clean sheets in 19 of their 25 matches under head coach Tite had conceded inside 13 minutes.

Then nearly an instant leveller: Willian forced his Chelsea team-mate Thibaut Courtois to palm the ball away and Gabriel Jesus couldn’t connect properly from close range – a let-off for Belgium.

Still, the end-to-end continued. Lukaku and Chadli ran at the Brazilian defence and caused trouble. Marcelo tested Courtois, Silva flicked the ball away with Fellaini waiting to pounce before the Man Utd man crucially headed away in his own box.

It sparked a slick counter-attack to which Brazil had no answer.

Lukaku was unstoppable, not for the first time this World Cup, as he romped down the middle leaving Brazilian defenders in his wake before releasing Kevin De Bruyne to arrow a perfect shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

Belgium will meet France in the semi-finals of the World Cup 2018

Kevin de Bruyne made the difference in Brazil-Belgium match-up

It left Alisson with no chance, it was a picture-book counter-attack.

It was also a sensational start inside 31 minutes for a country which had failed to score a first-half goal in nine of their last 10 World Cup games.

As the attacking continued on both sides, there were probes, there were nutmegs, it was open, it was breathtaking.

Courtois spectacularly tipped a trademark Phillipe Coutinho shot around the post just before the half drew to a close.

It was 2-0, it could easily have been 4-4!

Brazil came out after the restart with the intention of a nation determined to reach the semi-final stage for the 12th time.

If they had been awarded a penalty, as they should have been 11 minutes after the restart, World Cup 2018 odds on the five-time champions of the world would have increased dramatically.

There was no doubt Kompany fouled Jesus, even if the ball was going out of play.

But no spot kick was awarded and a second dramatic fightback in five days – Belgium’s comeback against Japan saw them become the first side to win a World Cup game from 2-0 down for 48 years – remained an uphill task.

Brazil pegged Belgium back, yet the Europeans remain disciplined and with Neymar’s theatrics clearly not impressing the excellent referee Milorad Mazic. It was easy to see why so many neutrals were actually cheering on Belgium rather than the perennial World Cup favourites.

Then came the glimpse the Selecao needed.

Moments after lively substitute Douglas Costa – whose introduction pepped them up – had forced a good save from Courtois, another arrival reduced the arrears.

Coutinho produced a perfectly weighted delivery, and Renato Augusto expertly directed a header beyond the impressive goalkeeper.

It was all Brazil. Coutinho went close, Augusto was inches wide from a dramatic equaliser, Neymar even closer only to be denied by a fantastic save from Courtois.

Perhaps after his antics throughout the tournament, justice had been done.

To a man, Belgium were terrific.

Roberto Martinez’s side are now unbeaten in their last 24 matches (won 18, drawn five).

They are in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1986.

Key statistics

Belgium have now won six successive World Cup matches for the first time. They have won nine of their last 10 matches at the tournament.

There will now be an all-European semi-final line-up for the first time at a World Cup since 2006.

Brazil’s last win against European opposition in the knockout stage came in the 2002 World Cup Final against versus Germany.

This was the fifth meeting between these nations. The first encounter was a friendly in Brussels in 1963 which Belgium won 5-1 but Brazil had won the subsequent three meetings, including at the 2002 World Cup when Brazil won 2-0 on their way to winning the tournament.

What’s next?

The next instalment of World Cup 2018 news will see a potentially cracking semi-final between Belgium and France in Saint Petersburg.

Brazil head home with Neymar delivering a reputation for blatant diving.

Belgium to play France in the World Cup 2018 semi-finals after beating Brazil 2-1

Neymar trying to win a penalty for Brazil against Belgium



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