- The French have the frightening pace of Kylian Mbappe, predatory instincts of Antoine Griezmann and playmaking abilities of Paul Pogba to go along with the indefatigable Ngolo Kante.
- Belgium, meanwhile, are perhaps the only other side that can rival France’s individual riches.
When days like this happen, you can only thank God for life. Few events compare to a World Cup semi-final between the two most gloriously talented soccer teams.
Tonight at 9am at Zenit Arena, time will stand still when France lock horns with neighbours Belgium for rights to play in Sunday’s final in Moscow.
By all accounts, this is the glamorous semi-final considering the quality of talent between the sides.
There is also the small matter of France and Belgium having negotiated the harder path to get to this stage; France knocked out two former winners with multiple titles each in Argentina and Uruguay while Belgium stopped record five-time winners Brazil.
France and Begium took care of all South American teams, who among them share a combined nine World Cups.
The French have the frightening pace of Kylian Mbappe, predatory instincts of Antoine Griezmann and playmaking abilities of Paul Pogba to go along with the indefatigable Ngolo Kante.
France have a world class goalkeeper, are physically strong, quick on the counter and score goals from everywhere as Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane showed against Argentina and Uruguay.
France, however, are yet to beat a European side at this World Cup.
All their four victories at the tournament have come against South American countries (Peru, Argentina, Uruguay) and Australia.
The only European side they faced, Denmark, held them to a 0-0 in the worst match of this World Cup. In fairness, it was a dead rubber.
Belgium, meanwhile, are perhaps the only other side that can rival France’s individual riches.
Thibaut Courtois is as good as Hugo Lloris. When it comes to physicality, it is a toss of a coin.
Belgium are the tallest side of all semi-finalists thanks to 6ft-plus frames Marouane Fellaini, Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku, Axel Witsel, Jan Vertonghen and Tobias Alderweireld. More importantly, they know how to use this advantage to great effect.
Technically no team plays a more devastating counter attack than Roberto Martniez’s side as Japan found out. Kevin De Bruyne has finally come to the party and Lukaku looks the most bullish no. 9 at the World Cup..
*The writer is Monitor Publications Sports Editor