Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Entertaiment | By Mabel Barber

"I'll show him!" - France's Giroud aims to prove Thierry Henry wrong


Many of Belgium and France's players have played against or with each other in the Premier League.

Chadli netted a dramatic stoppage-time victor in the round of 16 against Japan as Belgium came from two goals down to win 3-2.

With so many world-class players on display this World Cup semi-final should be an absolute classic - or it will end in a drab goalless draw with the winners reaching Sunday's final via a penalty shoot-out.

The meeting between France and Belgium in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup will be a special occasion for Eden Hazard, who will face his adopted country when he leads the Red Devils out at the Krestovsky Stadium on Tuesday.

"The players showed incredible focus and incredible togetherness. It is a hard situation - freakish - it is not easy for him".

Handed the armband by Roberto Martinez despite Vincent Kompany's return from injury, the Spaniard has drawn out Hazard's leadership qualities.

His pace and dribbling skill, and sangfroid as a finisher made him close to the flawless modern forward, devastating on the counter-attack, able to drift into wide positions to search for opportunity.

Belgium have scored at least two goals in all but one game during this competition. The former Everton boss used a four-man back line against Brazil after using a three-man defense for the previous four matches. But there haven't been one or two secrets to make it work, it's been common sense.

In his one interview with the Belgian national broadcaster, Henry said: 'It's not the Thierry Henry show, I'm here to help the manager and the squad.

"It's essential to have a player like Kevin, that he can play different roles", Martinez said.

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"He hadn't played a lot of football and to tell the truth I didn't know him".

Didier Deschamps' France side failed to fire in their group matches but burst into life in the 4-3 demolition of Argentina as Mbappe overshadowed Lionel Messi and confirmed his arrival as a new superstar of the game. With Thomas Meunier suspended for Belgium, France could attack through the left flank which could free up space for Mbappe on the right.

However, their backline will face its biggest test yet against a Belgian team that are top scorers at Russian Federation 2018 with 14 goals in their five games, with the strikes coming from nine different players - a record in diversity shared with the French team of 1982 and Italian side of 2006.

"Will they do something similar for us?"

"Perhaps he will sing the Marseillaise (before the game), which I find normal", the Manchester City and Belgium star said.

The base of midfield will see N'Golo Kante with Paul Pogba in a box-to-box role while Blaise Matuidi comes in for Corentin Tolisso who started the last game.

England´s coach Gareth Southgate (R) and England´s forward Harry Kane celebrate after winning during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Sweden and England at the Samara Arena in Samara on July 7, 2018.

Hazard came even closer shortly afterwards, this time cutting in on his favoured right foot and blasting the ball towards the far corner, only for Raphael Varane to divert the ball over the crossbar with a courageous header.

"I hope that I'll stay undefeated through 31 games and that we'll lift this cup", said the defender, who has been linked with Bayern Munich in recent days.

With England or Croatia awaiting, the victor of this one will go in to Sunday's final as the favorites. With the sides hard to separate on paper, how they handle the pressure, and perhaps those little nuggets of inside knowledge, could make all the difference.

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