One favorite will advance to the 2018 World Cup final, while the other will see their dreams come to an end. The World Cup semifinal sees two of the strongest teams in the tournament face off but is still considered something of a surprise.
France and Belgium meet today at 12:00 a.m. in Bangladesh time in the 2018 World Cup semifinals at the Nizhny Novgorod stadium.
Let’s look at some of the statistics ahead of the thrilling encounter.
- While the English dominated Sweden in their quarterfinal match, Croatia needed to win on penalty kicks in order to dispatch Russia.
- England is No. 12 in the FIFA World Rankings, while Croatia is No. 20.
- Both have been exceptional at Russia 2018. While Croatia has yet to drop a match in the 2018 World Cup, England's lone loss in group play was to Belgium, which takes on France in the other semifinal.
- France and Belgium have played 73 matches against each other with the Red Devils having won thirty of the games and holding Les Bleus to nineteen draws.
- France come into this semi-final in ominous form as they comfortably dispatched a tough Uruguayan team in their quarter-final tie.
- Deschamps has a settled line-up and formation so changes are unlikely although Matuidi could return after his ban for Tolisso.
- Umtiti and Mendy are both suffering with slight knocks but they should be ready for selection in what is an otherwise fit squad.
- Belgium reached the semis after producing an excellent performance to eliminate five-time winners Brazil and they are improving by the game.
- Meunier is suspended for this match which poses a dilemma for Martinez as he does not have another recognised right wing-back in his squad.
- Boyata is the defensive option having some experience as a right-back or Martinez could go with the more offensive Thorgan Hazard.
- France look in ominous form and appear to be peaking at the right time and while the Belgians look strong offensively, their naivety at the back may cost them against this potent France attack.
Three key head-to-heads
Antoine Griezmann v Romelu Lukaku
- Another tournament, another in which Griezmann has shone for France. The Atletico Madrid forward netted six times at Euro 2016 to win the Golden Boot as his team finished runners-up to Portugal. This time he will be looking to go one step further.
- Griezmann has scored three times so far in Russia, one fewer than Lukaku. England's Harry Kane leads the way with six.
- Griezmann has scored seven goals in his past six knockout matches in major tournaments, while Lukaku has been directly involved in 20 goals in his past 13 games for Belgium - 17 goals and three assists.
Kylian Mbappe v Eden Hazard
- Teenager Mbappe announced himself on the world stage with a brilliant man-of-the-match performance in France's 4-3 victory over Argentina.
- The Paris St-Germain player put on a devastating attacking show - his lightning speed and keen eye for goal helping him score twice and win a penalty.
- Prior to that, his goal against Peru made him - at 19 years and 183 days - the youngest player to score for France in a major tournament.
- Belgium captain Hazard, meanwhile, has already chipped in with two goals and two assists.
- Both players like to run with the ball, too. Of those left in the competition, Mbappe (37) and Hazard (30) are the top two players for dribbles attempted.
- "He apparently used to watch videos of me when he was younger," Hazard told RMC Sport as saiying by BBC. "Now, it's the other way around. I have a lot of respect for what he's achieved at his age."
Paul Pogba v Kevin de Bruyne
- The battle for midfield superiority - made in Manchester.
- United's Pogba and City's De Bruyne will be looking to exert their authority in the middle of the park, setting the tempo for their side.
- As their main statistics show, De Bruyne has created three times as many chances as Pogba so far, but the Frenchman is able to win the ball back more often than his opponent.