France v Belgium: European Giants Collide in Battle for Final Place
Just four teams remain in the 2018 World Cup, and you would have got long odds before a ball was kicked that Brazil, Germany or Spain would not be involved at this stage.
The first semi-final pits France and Belgium together in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday evening – kick-off: 19:00 GMT with the prize of competing in the 2018 World Cup Final at stake.
Didier Deschamps’ French side saw off an under-strength Uruguay outfit last Friday, while Belgium, inspired by a Kevin De Bruyne wonder-strike, broke Brazilian hearts to book their first last four appearance since Mexico 1986.
Early Team News
France look to have no real injury concerns for their Belgium test and Deschamps is likely to field the same team that took care of Uruguay. Blaise Matuidi comes back into the selection loop after missing the Quarter Final game through suspension. However, his place is far from guaranteed as Corentin Tolisso performed admirably in Matuidi’s absence.
Belgian boss Roberto Martinez has one major headache to solve in his line-up for Tuesday’s game. Wing-back, Thomas Meunier misses through suspension and it is likely that Belgium’s hero from the 3-2 comeback win over Japan, Nacer Chadli will deputise for the omitted PSG man. Chadli is not a natural defender though, but it is unlikely Martinez will shuffle his formation around to accommodate the West Bromwich Albion star.
All three permutations for this contest can be backed at odds-against which highlights how close this game could turn out to be. France however, are the bookmakers’ choice as the favourites to progress to the final on Sunday. Les Bleus can be backed at the best industry price of 31/20 with MarathonBet to eliminate their geographical neighbours.
Belgium can be backed at 11/5 to win the game in normal time with Unibet, while the Draw is at narrowly larger odds with MarathonBet at 57/25.
France are available again with MarathonBet at 81/100 to win the tie by any means, while Belgium can be had at 7/6 with 188BET to progress to their first major final.
The huge importance of the game could potentially turn the contest into a drab affair, with both teams more concerned with not losing, rather than going all-out to win. Hopefully, this is not the case in this instance and, with such a fine array of talent on both teams, it could be another classic game in an already memorable tournament.
The absence of Meunier could be a huge blow for Belgium that France can exploit. I have ready preference for Deschamps’ outfit in this contest, who look reasonable value at 31/20 to win inside normal time.
Individual Goal Scorers
Some of the finest players in world football will grace the field on Tuesday evening in what promises to be an intriguing contest. French forward, Antoine Griezmann is the bookmakers’ favourite to score the opening goal in this game at the best industry odds of 11/2 with SportingBet. Griezmann has three goals so far in this year’s tournament and will be an obvious threat to the Belgian defence.
Romelu Lukaku is narrowly behind in the betting at 23/4 with MarathonBet, with several layers having the Manchester United man as their personal favourite to open the scoring. Lukaku has four goals so far in the tournament and is the nearest challenger to England’s Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot. The Belgian forward is often mocked for only scoring goals against mediocre opposition, so this game is a real opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.
Teenage sensation, Kylian Mbappe has really stood out in this tournament as a player not only for the future, but also for the present. The 19-year-old forward has improved his performance levels as France have progressed and the PSG star is a 6/1 shot with 10Bet to score first.
Eden Hazard has to be involved in First Goalscorer calculations – especially as the Chelsea attacker is deadly from the penalty spot. Hazard scored twice in the 5-2 Group Stage win over Tunisia – including one from twelve yards. Unibet and 888Sport go 8/1 on Hazard to break the deadlock in this game and he could well be the man to be on.
Others to consider at larger prices include Paul Pogba at a generally available 12/1, while fellow Manchester United midfielder, Marouane Fellaini will be dangerous from set-pieces for the Belgians at 16/1 with 10Bet. Kevin De Bruyne is also a 16/1 chance – again with 10Bet.
Other Side Bets
One of the more split betting markets for this game is the Both Teams to Score market, with Yes available at 20/23 with Ladbrokes and Coral, while No can be taken with 188BET at even money. My preference for this bet is to side with both teams finding the net inside ninety minutes. Belgium have hit 14 goals already in the tournament, while France has scored nine goals. Hopefully this trend continues for a winning selection.
The odds of 17/4 with Ladbrokes and SportingBet on France to win the game with Both Teams to Score is also a bet worthy of noting, considering our prediction of a French victory and goals for either team.
Our Correct Score offering is for a 2-1 victory for France. SportingBet are once again the best option for this particular bet and a price of 9/1 is worth a nibble at.
- Both Teams to Score at 20/23 with Ladbrokes
- Eden Hazard to score the First Goal at 8/1 with 888 Sport
- France 2-1 Belgium Correct Score bet at 9/1 with SportingBet