France vs Belgium, a short history

France forward Antoine Griezmann, defender Rafael Varane and forward Olivier Giroud

Belgium enters with its much-lauded "golden generation" but a spotty history of missed tournaments and early exits.

"It's been two years to try and understand these footballers, the human beings behind the footballers, and to try and get a group that shared the same ambition, not just to use the national team to improve their brand", Martinez told a news conference.

Deschamps had appeared cautious to allow players such as Mbappe free rein early on in Russian Federation, but there is the growing feeling that he is now offering more attacking licence to a team so rich in talent going forward. It's like a voyage to the moon: "We need to face it full of illusions".

Lloris will have Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, the defensive duo who play in front of him for Tottenham Hotspur, on the opposite side.

Imagine Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe on the same team.

Not to mention Romelu Lukaku and N'Golo Kante who have also starred in Russian Federation. Fellaini has earned his place in the starting XI and will be partnering Witsel in the heart of the midfield.

"Maybe he'll sing La Marseillaise, which I would find normal", said De Bruyne. Defeated Japan in the round of 16, 3-2.

Given that Kylian Mbappe can fly, I think Belgium will continue with four defenders instead of three centre-backs.

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Didier Deschamps, the France manager, and Henry's captain when the World Cup and 2000 European Championship were won by Les Bleus, calls it "bizarre" that his compatriot will be on the opposing bench this afternoon, encouraging not Mbappe but the likes of Romelu Lukaku. "However, during the match, there will be no friendship".

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez set up his side brilliantly against Brazil, and I'm sure he will replicate that and come up with a plan to stop Mbappe, and for that matter Antoine Griezmann.

Thierry Henry: What is his record with France? There isn't a philosophy to the French play, their style of play derived from the personnel they have. He is an obvious, natural role model for any forward, and the ideal one for, say, a precious, strong pacey striker who, like him, was born on the outskirts of Paris, and, like him, served his apprenticeship at Monaco and, like him, scored crucial goals to galvanise a World Cup campaign.

Martinez, on the other hand, is a coach who lays emphasis to lovely, attacking football. That's what playing five-time champions, coached by someone of Tite's ability, do to opponents. "Both have the right mix of youth and experience and also lots of individual talent".

They last met in a friendly in 2015 and a number of Belgian and French players are team mates at club level.

"It might be a bit hard for him but he´s working for Belgium now, he wants us to win". "He always gives me a little bit of advice, which helps me improve".

Otherwise, there was respect and admiration in equal measure. "They do it well, they do it fast". But the 27-year-old burst onto center stage in knockout matches as Martinez pushed him into a more attacking position.

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.

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