France head into their World Cup semi-final
clash with Belgium looking to reach their third
final in six attempts, and do so on the back of
victories over Argentina and Uruguay.
When France needed a controversial penalty
and the most fortuitous of own goals to get
the better of Australia in their opening game,
few would have predicted that Didier
Deschamps 's team were capable of reaching
the last four of this competition.
However, while France failed to provide
excitement or optimism for the rest of the
tournament during the group stages, Les
Bleus have delivered in the knockout stages
with Argentina and Uruguay both being sent
packing back to South America.
There is an argument that doubts should
remain about a defence who conceded three
times against Argentina but in France's other
four matches, a goal has not been conceded
from open play.
In the grand scheme of things, France need
to take that confidence into a game against a
team such as Belgium because while Argentina
and Uruguay possessed the individual brilliance
of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez , they are yet
to face a team who are performing collectively
in the final third.
That said, while France will be wary, they will
not be scared. This is a team who have
suffered just one defeat in 17 outings, a run
which has included fixtures against England,
Netherlands, Wales, Germany, Italy and their
two most recent opponents.
These two teams have the potential to
become the top two nations in world football
but right now, France have more experience
and are producing the more polished
performances and that could prove decisive in
Belgium will be without Thomas Meunier as the
right wing-back serves a one-match ban for
two yellow cards.
Martinez is lacking a like-for-like
replacement, with Yannick Carrasco , Nacer
Chadli and Adnan Januzaj all options to fill the
void on the right.
The rest of the team could remain the same,
although Youri Tielemans and Mousa Dembele
are options in the middle of the park should
either Axel Witsel or Marouane Fellaini only
feature on the bench.
Deschamps is unlikely to make major
alterations to his France side, but Blaise
Matuidi is available again after serving a one-
The only selection dilemma appears to be
whether Matuidi or Corentin Tolisso will
feature on the left flank.
France possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez;
Kante, Pogba; Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud
Belgium possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen;
Chadli, Witsel, Fellaini, Carrasco; De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku