FIFA World Cup – Semi-finals – France v Belgium – Preview & Betting Tips

The following is a match centre with betting tips for the 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final between France and Belgium. The game kicks off on the 11th of July at 4:00 AM AEST. It will be broadcast live on SBS.

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France

France

  • FIFA World Rank: 7
  • Elo Rating: 4
  • Qualifying: Won Group A with a 7-2-1 record in the UEFA Confederation qualification.

Squad:

  • Coach: Didier Deschamps
  • Goalkeepers: Alphone Areola (Paris St Germain), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille)
  • Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St Germain), Benjamin Pavard (VfB Stuttgart), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Adil Rami (Olympique de Marseille), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
  • Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Steven N'Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
  • Forwards: Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Nabil Fekir (Olympique Lyonnais), Florian Thauvin (Olympique de Marseille), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

Recent results:

  • Uruguay 0 – 2 France
    06/07/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • France 4 – 3 Argentina
    30/06/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • Denmark 0 – 0 France
    26/06/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • France 1 – 0 Peru
    21/06/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • France 2 – 1 Australia
    16/06/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • France 1 – 1 USA
    09/06/2018
    Friendly, played in France
  • France 3 – 1 Italy
    01/06/2018
    Friendly, played in France
  • France 2 – 0 Ireland
    28/05/2018
    Friendly, played in France
  • Russia 1 – 3 France
    27/03/2018
    Friendly, played in Russia
  • France 2 – 3 Colombia
    23/03/2018
    Friendly, played in France
  • Germany 2 – 2 France
    14/11/2017
    Friendly, played in Germany
  • France 2 – 0 Wales
    10/11/2017
    Friendly, played in France

Statistics: (last four years):

  • H2H Record: 37-9-8
  • O/U record
    • O/U 0.5 record: 49-5
    • O/U 1.5 record: 41-13
    • O/U 2.5 record: 29-25
    • O/U 3.5 record: 18-36
    • O/U 4.5 record: 10-44
    • O/U 5.5 record: 4-50
  • Wins
    • Total wins: 37
    • Won by 1 goal: 18
    • Won by 2 goals: 12
    • Won by 3 goals: 4
    • Won by 4 goals: 2
    • Won by 5 goals: 1
    • Won by 5+ goals: 0
    • Won to nil 18
  • Losses
    • Total losses: 8
    • Lost by 1 goal: 5
    • Lost by 2 goals: 3
    • Lost by 3 goals: 0
    • Lost by 4 goals: 0
    • Lost by 5 goals: 0
    • Lost by 5+ goals: 0
    • Lost to nil 4
  • Clean Sheets and BTTS
    • Total Games: 54
    • Clean Sheets: 23
    • Held Scoreless: 9
    • Both Teams Scored: 27
Belgium

Belgium

  • FIFA World Rank: 3
  • Elo Rating: 8
  • Qualifying: Won Group H with a 9-1-0 record in the UEFA Confederation qualification.

Squad:

  • Coach: Roberto Martínez (Spain)
  • Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg)
  • Defenders: Toby Alderweireld Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Thomas Meunier (PSG)
  • Midfielders: Youri Tielemans (AS Monaco), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Dries Mertens (Na
  • Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid)

Recent results:

  • Brazil 1 – 2 Belgium
    06/07/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • Belgium 3 – 2 Japan
    02/07/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • England 0 – 1 Belgium
    28/06/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • Belgium 5 – 2 Tunisia
    23/06/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • Belgium 3 – 0 Panama
    18/06/2018
    FIFA World Cup, played in Russia
  • Belgium 4 – 1 Costa Rica
    11/06/2018
    Friendly, played in Belgium
  • Belgium 3 – 0 Egypt
    06/06/2018
    Friendly, played in Belgium
  • Belgium 0 – 0 Portugal
    02/06/2018
    Friendly, played in Belgium
  • Belgium 4 – 0 Saudi Arabia
    27/03/2018
    Friendly, played in Belgium
  • Belgium 1 – 0 Japan
    14/11/2017
    Friendly, played in Belgium
  • Belgium 3 – 3 Mexico
    10/11/2017
    Friendly, played in Belgium
  • Belgium 4 – 0 Cyprus
    10/10/2017
    WC qualifiers, played in Belgium

Statistics: (last four years):

  • H2H Record: 35-8-5
  • O/U record
    • O/U 0.5 record: 46-2
    • O/U 1.5 record: 40-8
    • O/U 2.5 record: 32-16
    • O/U 3.5 record: 23-25
    • O/U 4.5 record: 14-34
    • O/U 5.5 record: 9-39
  • Wins
    • Total wins: 35
    • Won by 1 goal: 13
    • Won by 2 goals: 6
    • Won by 3 goals: 7
    • Won by 4 goals: 4
    • Won by 5 goals: 1
    • Won by 5+ goals: 4
    • Won to nil 19
  • Losses
    • Total losses: 5
    • Lost by 1 goal: 2
    • Lost by 2 goals: 3
    • Lost by 3 goals: 0
    • Lost by 4 goals: 0
    • Lost by 5 goals: 0
    • Lost by 5+ goals: 0
    • Lost to nil 3
  • Clean Sheets and BTTS
    • Total Games: 48
    • Clean Sheets: 21
    • Held Scoreless: 5
    • Both Teams Scored: 24


Commentary

France

France qualified for the knockout stage with a match to spare after they defeated Australia 2-1 and Peru 1-0. They then made six changes to the side and drew Denmark in a low-intensity game in which a draw suited both teams. In the Round of 16 France came back from 1-2 down to see off Argentina 4-3. In the quarter-finals France defeated Uruguay 2-0. Their second goal was a gift, following an error by the Uruguayan keeper, but France controlled the game well and rarely looked troubled defensively. It wasn’t a spectacular display, but it was an efficient and polished performance. France have now scored with each of their last six shots on target at the World Cup.

France’s form in the group stage hadn’t lived up to expectations, with the side failing to find any consistent rhythm, however against Argentina they found another gear and against Uruguay they looked defensively sound and well organised in possession. They now look like a formidable team, featuring a good balance of defensive resilience and attacking flair, which explains their favouritism with bookmakers to win the World Cup. Since losing to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final, France have only lost one of their last 15 competitive games, going 11-3-1. Their last nine matches have resulted 7-2-0. In team news, Blaise Matuidi is available for selection after serving his one-match suspension for accumulating two yellow cards. Djibril Sidibe is in doubt after he limped out of training on Sunday with a possible ankle injury.

Belgium

Belgium coasted into the knockout stage as the winners of Group G. After beating Panama 3-0 and Tunisia 5-2, Belgium defeated England 1-0 in a game where both sides fielded second-string teams. In the Round of 16 Belgium came back from 0-2 down to defeat Japan 3-2. In the quarter-finals Belgium put in a much more assured display as they saw off Brazil 2-1. Belgium impressed offensively in that match. There was a touch of good fortune with the first goal, but the second stemmed from great displays of quality from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne. Finding the net twice was no easy feat given Brazil had conceded just 1 goal in 8 fixtures leading up to that clash. It was also the first time in 30 matches that Brazil had conceded more than once in a game. Belgium have had nine different goalscorers at this World Cup, highlighting their lack of reliance on any key players for goals.

Ignoring their clash against England, in which they fielded a second-string team, Belgium have been a goal-scoring machine. They averaged 4.3 goals during qualifying and scored 11 times during their 4 friendlies. No other team has scored more goals this tournament than they have with 14. The only question mark is defence, with the likes of Tunisia and Japan scoring more than once. Nevertheless, Belgium continue to improve upon their impressive record. Since losing to Spain in a friendly in 2016, they have gone 19-5-0 under Roberto Martinez and are on a seven-game winning streak. Their golden generation of players is certainly living up to the hype and there seems to be more self-belief within the squad than in 2014. In team news, defender Thomas Meunier is suspended for this clash after he picked up a second booking in the tournament. It will be interesting to see who Martinez opts for in the starting line-up. Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli were promoted to the starting eleven against Brazil after they came on from the bench to score key goals against Japan. Belgium played narrower to deny Neymar and Philippe Coutinho space, but they may take a different approach to contend with the different challenges posed by France. In Belgium’s camp is assistant coach Thierry Henry, who will be able to provide useful insights into his compatriots.

Betting

bet365 odds (subject to change):

Compare the latest bookmaker odds for France vs. Belgium

There’s no shortage of head-to-head history to reference given the sides having played each other 73 times, with France having the inferior 24-19-30 record. They haven’t played in each other in a major tournament since 1986, however, with 7 of their last 8 meetings being friendlies. In their 21st century meetings, Belgium have gone 2-2-1, with their last defeat to France coming back in 2004. They have gone unbeaten in their last 3 fixtures against France:

18 May 2002 – France v Belgium – 1-2 – International Friendly
18 Feb 2004 – Belgium v France – 0-2 – International Friendly
15 Nov 2011 – France v Belgium – 0-0 – International Friendly
14 Aug 2013 – Belgium v France – 0-0 – International Friendly
07 Jun 2015 – France v Belgium – 3-4 – International Friendly
Source: 11v11.com

This fixture certainly has the potential for goals. Over the last 4 years France have been held scoreless in just 9 out of 54 games, while Belgium have been shutout in just 4 out of 48 games. Since 2017 Belgium have been prolific offensively and they have scored at least twice in 9 of their last 12 matches. Defensively, meanwhile, they haven’t been as convincing. In their 13 World Cup knockout games to date, Belgium have never kept a clean sheet. In all fixtures they’ve only kept their opponents scoreless in 2 of their last 6 games. Against Brazil they only conceded 1 goal, however they did allow the Brazilians a whopping 27 shots, including 9 shots on target. All up there have been over 2.5 goals in 9 of Belgium’s last 12 games. While France’s defensive record this tournament has been good, they played a Uruguayan side that was missing Edinson Cavani and the struggling Argentinians managed to scored three times against them. In the group stage Denmark simply played for a draw, while Australia and Peru didn’t pose nearly as strong an attacking threat that Belgium can.

In the goal scoring market the key players to look out for are:
Antoine Griezmann – has scored seven goals in his last six knockout-stage matches in major tournaments. He is also France’s penalty taker.
Romelu Lukaku – has score 17 goals in his last 13 games for Belgium.

Betting tips:

Given Belgium are unbeaten in their last 24 matches, I will back them to be at least level after 90 minutes. They have a good record against France and they have the quality within the squad to match it with anyone.

Back Belgium +0.5 in the Asian handicap at 1.63 (Betfair)

Given the winner of this fixture will be favoured against the winner of Croatia v England, plus the winner of this game will get an extra day’s rest ahead of the final, it is worth considering backing both France at 3.00 (Sportsbet) and Belgium at 3.75 (Sportsbet) to win the World Cup.

If I had to pick a correct scoreline it would be France 1-2 Belgium at 13.50 (Betfair). For a bit of fun, you can get France 2-3 Belgium at 44.00 (Betfair) and France 3-4 Beglium at 276.00 (Sportsbet).

Notes

 

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