World Cup Semifinals: Belgium vs. France

Welp, we’ve made it this far. The Semifinals of the World Cup. Three more matches before we have to wait another four years for this majestic tournament again. That’s so depressing, especially because there have been some of the more memorable games in recent history this year. Last-minute winners, England getting over their penalty woes, goalies stepping up in big moments. It’s had it all. And now, here we are. Let’s get to it.

Belgium: +185

France: +155

Draw: +225

Why Belgium Will Win: Belgium has shown a little bit of everything this tournament. The ability to run teams off the pitch (read: 5-2 drubbing of Tunisia), the ability to come from behind (read: the comeback against Japan from 2 goals down to win 3-2), and the ability to beat superior teams (their 2-1 quarterfinal win against Brazil). There might not be a more exciting team in this tournament. One thing is certain with this team: they can score with the best of them. Their counter-attacking ability is unmatched by anyone on the planet.

Their front three of De Bruyne, Hazard, and Lukaku is going to be an absolute nightmare for France’s shaky defense to deal with, especially when France goes forward and commits numbers to the attack. The Belgians have been through it all so far, and are this close to the finals that has eluded this Golden Generation for so long. Belgium also happens to have the best player on the field in KDB, which is always helpful.

Why France Will Win: It’s taken the French some time to figure out their best XI, but after the Denmark game they’ve really put it together. The 4-3 thriller against Argentina showcased their ability going forward and their class, while the 2-0 win against Uruguay was a masterclass in how to put away inferior teams. Mbappe is an absolute terror, especially on the break when he can get up to full speed. Case in point:

France has pace to burn and clinical finishers that will cause Belgium’s (likely) back three problems all afternoon. The key here is N’golo Kante, who will be marking De Bruyne all day. He is easily the best defensive midfielder in the world, and his energy and ability to win the ball back in the middle of the pitch is key to both stopping Belgium’s attack and getting France out in transition quickly.

Who Will Win: This game, like most, comes down to the midfield. Whoever wins the battle in the middle of the pitch will win 90% of games. When the talent on the field is this evenly split, this is where the game is won and lost. I think that Paul Pogba will be an absolute menace in a game where France needs him at his creative best, while Kante deals with the defensive work. I love this Belgian team, but (as a Liverpool fan) I just can’t see Roberto Martinez leading a team to a World Cup final. Goals from Mbappe and Griezmann will get them past Kevin De Bruyne and co. France To Win 3-2

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