- France and Belgium meet in the World Cup Semi-Finals at 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, July 10th
- How have these neighboring nations fared head-to-head?
- Can Belgium reach their first World Cup in the nation’s history?
You could be forgiven with argument that the match between France and Belgium is already more than finals calibre.
How France Got Here
After a solid, yet unspectacular Group Stage, Les Bleus have turned it up a notch in the Knockout Rounds, with 4-3 and 2-0 wins over Argentina and Uruguay.
On Friday, France were given a gift of a Uruguay squad without one of their most influential players, Edinson Cavani. Cavani missed the match due to an injured calf muscle sustained during the Round of 16.
The already defensive-minded Uruguayans were forced to rely more heavily on their defense to start the match. France predictably held the possession advantage throughout and were able to break through late in the first half.
After Uruguay’s Rodrigo Bentancur received a yellow card, France’s Antoine Greizmann’s free kick was headed into the back of the net by defender Raphaël Varane to give the French the lead. Minutes later Uruguay had a great chance to pull even at half, but Hugo Lloris made a diving save off a Uruguay free kick which was headed on goal.
The defining moment of the game came at the 61′ mark when Griezmann put what looked like a straight forward shot on goal. Instead, Uruguay’s keeper Fernando Muslera completely misjudged the ball, and saw it deflect off his hands and over him into the net.
The 2-0 disadvantage would prove too much for Uruguay to come back from.
The French became the first team to beat three South American teams in the same World Cup (Peru, Argentina, Uruguay) and have still never lost a World Cup game when leading at halftime.
The French became the first team to beat three South American teams in the same World Cup (Peru, Argentina, Uruguay) and have still never lost a World Cup game when leading at halftime. A place in the Semi-Finals is the first time France have made it this far since being runners-up in 2006.
How Belgium Got Here
A match that looked to have the potential to be one of the most exciting of the tournament between Brazil and Belgium did not disappoint. However it was the underdog Belgians who proved too much for tournament favorties Brazil.
After almost seeing their tournament come to an end against Japan, Head Coach Roberto Martínez was forced to make some adjustments to his lineup. Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli, both of whom scored as second half substitutes in the Japan game, found themselves part of Belgium’s starting eleven.
Martínez also switched his formation from his regular 3-4-2-1 with striker Romelu Lukaku up top, to 4-3-3 with Kevin De Bruyne playing as a false nine, and Lukaku and Eden Hazard on the wings.
The strategy paid off as Belgium looked dangerous from the start. Off an early corner kick the own goal struck again, as Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho deflected the ball into his own net at the 16′ mark.
15 minutes later The Red Devils were at it again, with Lukaku feeding the ball to De Bruyne who rifled a shot from the top of the box to give Belgium a 2-0 lead. With a two-goal lead Belgium started to play more defensive and were outshot 27-9 and 9-3 in shots and shots on target.
But they didn’t concede a goal until Brazil substitute Renato Augusto scored at 76′. Brazil continued to press and Neymar came the closest to tying the match with a shot Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois tipped over the bar in injury time.
Streaks and head-to-head history
Belgium’s 14 goals are a new record for the team in a World Cup, and reaching the Semi-Finals is something they have only accomplished once before.
The Red Devils have the strongest collection of players in their nation’s history and have not tasted defeat since September 2016. Since then, they have been performing at an elite level with a 19-5-0 record and have won seven straight. They have also outscored their opponents by a 78-20 margin since their last loss.
Belgium have a 19-5-0 record since their last lost in September 2016 and have outscored their opponents 78-20 in that time
As neighboring UEFA nations, Belgium and France have gone head-to-head several times dating back to 1938. Interestingly, they have not played a competitive match against one another since World Cup 1986.
In that match, both teams had lost in the Semi-Finals, and France took a 4-2 win after extra time in the Third Place Match against Belgium. Since that time, they have only played in friendlies, where France holds a small advantage, having won three of the eight matches while also drawing three.
Not to be outdone, France is also riding an impressive streak of their own, being undefeated in their last 11 international matches. They did fall 3-2 to Colombia in a friendly match earlier this year, but prior to that had not last a match since June 2017.
World Cup Stats
|19||Total Shots On Target||33|
Pick: Both Teams To Score -125 via Bovada
There is simply too much talent on the field not to expect some goals in this match. The “Both Teams To Score” prop opened at roughly even money (-105) when this matchup was confirmed, and has taken money seeing the ‘Yes’ now juiced to -125 at Bovada.
Only one time in this World Cup have one of these teams not scored in their match, and that was in a match between France and Denmark, where a draw benefitted both teams and they ended 0-0.
Both teams scoring would’ve paid out in 3/5 Belgium matches, and 2/5 France matches this World Cup.
Both teams scoring would’ve paid out in 3/5 Belgium matches and 2/5 France matches this World Cup.
Beglium has shown they can be scored on, but also lead the tournament in goals. France has not played many teams with strong attacking players to this point. However, in their match against Argentina, a team with comparable attackers, we saw a seven-goal shootout.
While I’m not predicting another 4-3 result for either team, a bet on both teams finding the scoresheet within the 90 seems probable.
France vs Belgium Odds Via Bovada
|FRA||Pick (-130)||+150||2.5 (+110) O||-135|
|BEL||Pick (+110)||+200||2.5 (-130) U||+110|