The 2018 FIFA World Cup is one game away from sealing the last two teams, and France claims the first finals spot after dropping Belgium in a narrow 1-0 victory. Fighting for the remaining spot are England and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadum on Wednesday.
Neither Belgium nor Croatia has ever won the FIFA World Cup. England, meanwhile, has not progressed as far as the semi-finals since they hosted the tournament in 1966 which they also won that year.
France has made it to the semifinals in three of their last six World Cup appearances. Just like England, the Les Bleus also won the World Cup they last hosted in 1998, taking down the mighty Brazil 3-0.
France vs Belgium: As It Happened
It was a tight match for both sides. Belgium controlled the early minutes of the game with accurate passing and a 21st minute shot by Alderweireld that produced a great save from Hugo Lloris. Belgium’s Eden Hazard ran the first half of the match with potent attacking alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. However, Lukaku was under the radar in the latter half of the match, which proved the be crucial for the Belgians.
Barcelona center back Samuel Umtiti was the only name in the scoresheet as he headed in an Antoine Griezmann corner kick. The Frenchman swerved in the ball from the right and Umtiti got ahead of Marouane Fellaini to slip one past the near post.
In search of a level pegging scenario, Belgium continuously fired crosses from both sides but defenders Umtiti and Varane were composed enough to deny Fellaini and Lukaku open looks. Hugo Lloris also performed well throughout the game denying minor chances that could have been converted.
France held on to their 1-goal lead with effective defending, which the Belgians did not find amusing. Ultimately, Didier Deschamps’ tactics held up well in the semifinals. The French team is set to face either England or Croatia in the finals.
Fight To The Finals
England was runner-up to Belgium in Group G. Some may say that the Three Lions had the easier path to the finals between the two. England beat Colombia on penalty kicks and handled Sweden well with a 2-0 victory. The team’s skipper, Harry Kane, has 6 goals in the tournament so far and is a top candidate for the Golden Boot Award.
Croatia, on the other hand, went undefeated taking the first spot in Group D, including a 3-0 win over Argentina, then beat both Spain and Russia in two 120-minute matches and two penalty shootouts. It’s indeed a tough and tiring road for the Croatians as they prepare to face England.