Belgium's Hazard spells World Cup danger for France
Jul 14 2018
Hazard's willingness and ability to carry the ball under pressure, jinking past helpless defenders, was in evidence as Belgium claimed their greatest-ever World Cup scalp by beating Brazil in the quarter-finals.
"I think we are quite complete as a team", the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper said.
Long considered the a lesser footballing nation than its neighbor the Netherlands - whose orange-clad teams have reached three World Cup finals and lost them all - this Belgium team has at least dispelled the Dutch shadow.
"We have prepared well, I can brag a little about that", laughed Deschamps after securing a place in Sunday's final in Moscow against either Croatia or England.
After days of soccer, the World Cup final is upon us. "We have one game left and I want to ensure we finish the tournament on a high because these players don't deserve to leave here with a bad taste", he said. As in 2016, the dynamic within the team is very good, but the team is more mature.
France started the tournament in Russian Federation slowly, struggling for goals in the group stages but hit their stride in an impressive 4-3 victory against Lionel Messi's Argentina in the first knockout round.
The bruising and in-form Romelu Lukaku is at the tip of their spear with the creative thrust of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens feeding the big man up front, or hunting for themselves.
Whereas France played on the counter-attack against Belgium and predominantly so in their 4-3 last 16 win over Argentina, when they had just 40 and 41 per cent possession respectively, Deschamps' side sought to control the ball in their 2-0 quarter-final victory over Uruguay and enjoyed 58 per cent possession.
The defeat is painful for Belgium, foiled at the semi-final for the second time in their history, as the clock ticks on their so-called "golden generation". Both players have been able to adapt as their sides have moved through the tournament, though in different directions.
"I couldn't ask more of the players' attitude", he said. "There is more experience", said Varane.
England are in the last four of a major tournament for the first time since Euro '96, when Southgate himself missed a penalty in a shootout defeat against Germany.
Croatia has never won the World Cup. "It is played on small margins and we will have no opportunity to lose concentration.Tomorrow is another step, and it is going to be an important step for all our careers".
"We have seen a fantastic Belgian team and have been eliminated by a team that was more solid than us", he stated. "We know what it takes and in such moments you forget any fatigue you may feel", said the 29-year-old.