France v Belgium: key head-to-head battles to look out for

  • France v Belgium: key head-to-head battles to look out for

France v Belgium: key head-to-head battles to look out for

But he has not shown the form he did when he led France in scoring en route to the Euro 2016 final, when Les Bleus lost to Portugal. It's an advantage to both teams.

Martinez himself has given the Manchester United frontman some pointers; he has given him a Youtube video of Huge Sanchez's 38 goals in a single season, all scored with one touch.

And that is key because in Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, Belgium have two more players who can make the difference at any time and against any team. "But we're not thinking about it too much, we're going to be focused on the pitch and our game". They know how to counterattack.

France team news: N'Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann to start in this 4-2-3-1 vs Belgium? In comparison, Belgium are reactive in nature. Henry, scorer of goals that frequently had his audiences asking "How did he do that?" when he was a player, works with Belgian strikers on the fine details of finishing; he is there to divulge secrets, and keep those secrets in a closed circle. With the likes of Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne lifting a combined five Premier League trophies, it'd be naïve to underestimate the Belgians.

He's a good passer and increasingly intelligent tactically.

France displayed different qualities in overcoming Uruguay in their quarter-final, winning 2-0 in an attritional contest which lacked the spark of the Argentina victory but was equally as impressive in its control and game management.

The only difference being is that France have history to live up to. The absence of Casemiro gave Belgium a lot of space in a crucial zone against Brazil. The problem has been moulding them into an effective team.

Southgate has told his players they have the potential to be bigger heroes even than the team featuring Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton that win on home soil in 1966. Both these teams are solid in the middle and that's why they have come this far.

Belgium's haul of 14 goals from their first five World Cup games is only bettered by Brazil in 2002. It takes guts to do that at this stage. Strategy, system is alright.

There was more of the same during Belgium's pre-match press conference.

Vertonghen is the only Belgian player with 100 global caps, and the 31-year-old's looping header sparked a dramatic fightback in the 3-2 victory over Japan in the last 16. "With swift passing and creativity, this makes them strong contenders", Maradona wrote.

Kevin De Bruyne was given a more advanced role and he hurt the Selecao time and time again, but Martinez can not spring the same surprise, although he may get some inside knowledge from assistant Thierry Henry, France's record goalscorer. "With France also high on motivation as well as resources, this clash promises to be mouth-watering".

Seven weeks ago, players and coaching team started working together at the base camp with the same goal: Their potential as players would be of use only if they could create a collective soul that would be stronger than any individual attempt.