Umtiti header sends streetwise France into World Cup final

Umtiti header sends streetwise France into World Cup final

Umtiti header sends streetwise France into World Cup final

There was nowhere near as much on the line in that match, which was contested for third place in the tournament.

The connections between the two national team setups have become increasingly apparent in the two barren days between the last quarterfinal and the start of the last four.

The goal capped an impressive display by Umtiti, who helped to shut out the most productive attack in the World Cup with 14 goals, and meant three defenders have now scored on France's route to the final.

But Belgium gradually grew into the game, retaining more possession as Eden Hazard began to cause problems with his runs and incisive movements on the left side. He was their leading scorer in the World Cup when the country won its first and only world title as host nation in 1998, despite not being a regular starter and only 20 years old at the time.

France - with an average age of 26 - will face either Croatia or England, who play Wednesday at the Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital, and has a shot at redemption after losing its last two major finals - at the 2006 World Cup when Zinedine Zidane was sent off for a nasty head-butt and the 2016 European Championship on home soil. He has a specific job on the Belgium coaching staff, to coach the attacking players and counsel on strategies; it is part-time role, outside his broadcasting work in English television, and his rank in the Belgian staff hierarchy is well beneath that of manager Roberto Martinez.

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The 21-year-old was born in Wrexham and has represented Wales at both youth level and senior level. He has not featured for Liverpool since May 2015.


"I'm pleased for him, he's someone I really appreciate", Deschamps said. And, for that, it will be a blushing set of Bleus if Belgium outwit the French.

"The feeling after scoring that goal was unbelievable, but then so was the feeling after the match against Brazil".

"We've strived to be as good as we could be at global level and it's taken us two years to get there".

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

"He's a different player now, and he will be a star for the next 15 years". "Apart from goalkeeper I could tell you that he could not just play, he could perform at the highest level in any position. That's the quality that he has".

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Belgium winger Nacer Chadli has said Spanish coach Roberto Martinez deserved credit for the team's success at the 2018 World Cup. Hazard moved to Lille when he was 14 and he and his brothers used to admire the French 1998 World Cup winning side.


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. Henry did not play in the 3-0 final victory for Les Bleus over Brazil.

However, they say they will have no objection if the Centre Court crowd want to take sneak peeks of the action from Moscow on their phones. "Probably", he said. "I have made sure my players are prepared for any scenario at the beginning of the match and during the match if it changes".

So between Belgium and France, there was never going to be an undeserving World Cup finalist.

"Belgian football has got a wealth of young talent coming through", said Martinez.

They will play the victor of tomorrow's second semi-final match between England and Croatia. 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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