Belgium star Hazard: I used to support France growing up

Annette Crawford
July 11, 2018

It promises to be a fascinating encounter as France & Belgium battle it out for a place in the final of the World Cup.

"We know them, they know us", France coach Didier Deschamps, who was a key part of the French team that won the World Cup in 1998, told reporters in a pre-match media conference.

The only difference being is that France have history to live up to.

From 32 nations at the World Cup, four remain. Now, with well-orchestrated teamwork, the "golden generation" is determined to fight for the championship.

"We know him, he has a lot of passion for football and he will be with the Belgians and will give everything to help his team". We need to rise to challenge and keep doing what we've been doing.

'Quite simply, I think Belgium is the most complete side in the tournament, in all aspects of the game, ' the 31-year-old Lloris said Monday.' They defend well.

There was a collective groan from Manchester United fans recently when it was announced that Marouane Fellaini's contract had been renewed. Barring a Kylian Mbappe-inspired 4-3 victory over Argentina, France have lacked cohesion in the final third.

Enigmatic and controversial, Paul Pogba makes it into the starting XI here. "Each player would be defending his colours".

The biggest decision for these lineups come from Belgium coach Roberto Martinez. France forward Antoine Griezmann shouted during the post-match celebrations. His other World Cup performances have yielded high points totals too, with a notable 96 points coming from his shutout against Denmark.

The truth is that football just isn't about fleet-footed wingers or passing maestros, there's also room for the destroyers - those who stop other teams from playing, disrupt their rhythm and protect the defence. He is more proactive than reactive. Fellaini adds a muscular presence in midfield next to Witsel, making the Belgium team far more balanced.

Deschamps also took a jibe at Martinez.

To stand a chance, Belgium needed to optimise their attacking threats, while simultaneously ensuring that they don't grant space to Brazil's quartet of attackers. "I don't want to offend him but he has benefitted from the work done by [former Belgium coach] Marc Wilmots. He changed things, put his own mark and has great potential and I congratulate him at being here".

Otherwise, there was respect and admiration in equal measure.

"It is weird", said Deschamps, "because he is French and that he will be on the bench of the opposition. They do it well, they do it fast".

He said Henry had made Belgium into "a team that likes to attack". "They are a fantastic team".

Belgium have undeniably been the standout side in the tournament, scoring a total of 14 goals in five matches.

"With my brothers, we have always been more supporters of France than Belgium because we grew up with '98", Hazard said. And if he does that, it will be a moment to savour for one of the most-vilified footballers in the modern game. We immensely respect the quality of France. Kevin De Bruyne combined with the ex-Chelsea man to score a thunderous strike past a hapless Allison, dominating proceedings in an advanced false 9 role. "He has been in England a long time and personally I have very little contact with him", Le Graet said.

He compared Henry's early steps in coaching to those followed by Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid before he took the top job and went on to win three Champions League titles in a row. I'm not thinking much about what will happen. Expect him to make plenty of runs on the shoulder of the Manchester City centre-back, leading to a frantic end-to-end game with plenty of goals.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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