This past Tuesday evening, Didier Deschamps’ resilient French side overcame the daunting task of defeating the very resilient and FIFA World Cup top scorers Belgium with a 1-0 win at St. Petersburg.
France eventually booked their place in the final of The 2018 FIFA World Cup thanks to a ruthless header from Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti in the 51st minute.
This will be The Les Blues’ first World Cup final since 2006 and Deschamps’ men will now either face-off against England or Croatia in the final in Moscow on Sunday.
However, regardless of France’s dominant win, the resilient Belgian side should also be given a pat on their backs for such a brilliant performance in Russia. Throughout the entirety of 90 minutes there were several ups and downs in the match and with that being said, let us now take an in-depth look at the 3 major talking points from France’s exciting clash against Belgium.
Belgium’s lacklustre performance in the midfield
There is certainly no doubt of the fact that Belgium’s entire midfield consists of several talented men who have been playing for some of the most notable clubs in Europe.
However, last night, coach Roberto Martinez opted to start with three central midfielders in Belgian’s line-up, with Spurs man Moussa Dembele playing as the LWB, whereas, his fellow Premier League colleague Nacer Chadli started as the RWB, replacing the suspended Thomas Meunier.
As expected, Chelsea man and Belgium captain Eden Hazard once again had a very solid outing, but apparently, did not receive the proper backing from Dembele, who featured right behind the Belgium No. 10 and never really found his rhythm.
Meanwhile, Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini also had a lot of pressure on himself through the entire 90 minutes, due to the fact that he had to play both as a No. 10 in the attacking role and also had the job of marking his fellow club-level teammate Paul Pogba at times.
Fellaini’s poor outing also eventually led to the Umtiti’s goal, as the United midfielder failed to mark the Barca centre-back during a decisive corner in the second half.
France’s hellacious attacking display
The French attack has pretty much been led by two of their star forwards in Antoine Griezmann and 19-year-old superstar Kylian Mbappe, whose tremendous pace proved to be vital throughout this entire World Cup Finals in Russia.
France once again had a very solid outing in front of goal and despite being a little scrappy at times, Didier Deschamps’ men managed to hit a total of 17 attempts on goal.
However, the Les Bleus’ main striker Olivier Giroud has had a terrible outing in the WC so far and France haven’t been able to get the finishing touch on their crisp attack, due to Giroud’s recent form in Russia.
Belgium’s poor attacking performance
Being the top scorers of the 2018 World Cup, you would certainly expect Belgium to score one goal at least at this crucial stage of The FIFA World Cup Finals, however, that did not happen, as the entire Belgium attack sort of collapsed in-front of goal last night.
The likes of Kevin De Bruyne, who won the game for the Belgians against Brazil in the Quarter Finals, and Romelu Lukaku were seemingly very quiet throughout the entire 90 minutes and kudos to the center back pairing of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti, who successfully managed to keep both these at bay during the entire game.
Lukaku’s finishing, in particular, was not up to the mark and the absence of either one of Dries Mertens—who came on late in the second half—and Meunier was clearly visible.
Coach Roberto Martinez’s decisions were also somewhat questionable as he decided to bring on Borussia Dortmund striker Mitchy Batshuayi after 90 minutes, given the fact that Batshuayi clearly has better pace than Romelu Lukaku and could’ve eventually proved to be the vital point of the match.