FIFA WORLD CUP:SEMI-FINAL France vs Belgium possible line-ups,team news and injury updates

The European neighbours must go head-to-head in Saint Petersburg as they bid to reach the final of the tournament on Saturday. It promises to be a real treat for fans and neutrals with both sides possessing lethal attacks, and solid defences.

Didier Deschamps (France):

“The potential is there, the individual quality is there, this side is younger than the side that was in the final of Euro 2016 but they have a lot of club experience at a high level. “We will be more competitive. In two and four years, we have a lot of players who will still be here with us. There is potential for progression and this experience here should help them.”

Roberto Martinez (Belgium):

“It’s been two years to try and understand these footballers, the human beings behind the footballers, and to try and get a group that shared the same ambition, not just to use the national team to improve their brand. “We’ve strived to be as good as we could be at international level and it’s taken us two years to get there. But there haven’t been one or two secrets to make it work, it’s been common sense. “It’s a group of people who share a vision of making Belgian football proud and achieving something important and these players have done that.” Hugo Lloris (France): “They are an exhaustive team, they know how to do everything. “I think the Belgian team is the most exhaustive team in all aspects of the game during this tournament – they are strong everywhere. “They have everything they need to be a great team and they are a great team. It is a fantastic generation and in order to beat them we will have to play a great match. “We know there are going to be difficult moments and we’ll have to be ready to suffer. “But we will be ready because we have an extremely good state of mind and it is the semi-finals in the World Cup. It is an opportunity in our careers and we have to grab it with both hands.” ------ France star Hugo Lloris made a vital save to keep Uruguay at bay in the quarter-finals. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium): “I said before the tournament that we were coming here to win it. It was not with arrogance that I said that back then. “I think Belgium has a good team and plenty of other teams came here wanting to win the competition. “You have to show ambition otherwise you can’t win. That’s the attitude we are going into the match with.”

Team news

Blaise Matuidi returns from suspension for France and is likely to start in place of Corentin Tolisso, while Olivier Giroud will continue up top. For the Belgians, Roberto Martinez is likely to return to his favoured 3-4-2-1 but right wing-back Thomas Meunier’s suspension means a reshuffle is needed and could lead to several alterations, with either Nacer Chadli replacing him, or Martinez keeping the 4-3-2-1 which worked so well against Brazil.

Belgium right wing-back Thomas Meunier will miss the semi-final through suspension.

Predicted teams

France:

Hugo Lloris; Lucas Hernandez, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Benjamin Pavard; N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba; Blaise Matuidi, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe; Olivier Giroud.

Belgium:

Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld; Yannick Carrasco, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli; Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard; Romelu Lukaku​.

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