Umtiti header sends France into World Cup final

Belgium coach Thierry Henry has chosen the wrong camp says France forward Olivier Giroud

2018 FIFA World Cup Prediction: France vs Belgium

On the brink of their first ever World Cup final, Belgium were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup in the semi-final against France on Tuesday night.

Paul Pogba has paused after the biggest win of his worldwide career to dedicate it to the Thai soccer team whose last members were freed from a flooded cave hours earlier.

Henry, a World Cup and European Championship victor with France as well as their record goalscorer, is now in the Belgium camp as assistant manager.

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It had been suggested that France needed to step up a level in quality to get past the Belgians and they did just that even if their disciplined, professional performance hardly set the pulses racing.

Hazard said he was proud of what Roberto Martinez's team had managed in Russian Federation.

Samuel Umtiti found the net with a powerful header in the 51st minute of the semi-final to book France's place in the final against either Croatia or England.

Somehow, the Frenchman managed the claw the ball round the post when it seemed to already be behind him to thwart his Spurs teammate and keep the game goalless.

2018 FIFA World Cup Prediction: France vs Belgium

But the star attacker criticised Les Bleus for their style, saying he would prefer to play for his team and lose.

Furthermore, the French defensive formation hindered De Bruyne to make any of his impressive runs towards the box and he was nowhere to be seen for most of the evening. I play against teams that play so defensively 90% of the time.

Once the second half got under way there wasn't long to wait for the deadlock to be broken and, considering the amount of set-piece goals scored at Russian Federation 2018, it should not have been a surprise that the opener came from a corner.

Belgium took early control of midfield with France content to sit deep and eliminate the threat of counter-attacks Hazard and De Bruyne.

It was very different from the 3-2 Round-of-16 win against Japan, when even at 2-0 down, you knew it was not game over.

The Manchester City midfielder, outstanding against Brazil, was marked out of the game and struggled to link up with Hazard and Lukaku as effectively.

While French fans were elated at the final whistle, there were probably plenty of smiles from the English and Croatian camps, who after witnessing this match must have raised hopes for the final. You're disappointed because you lose the semi-final, and it's very hard to see the opportunity of playing another game as a positive.

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