Two of the best sides in the competition seek to book their place on the grandest stage of them all in this mammoth semi-final tie in Saint Petersburg.
The first semi-final tie of the 2018 World Cup will see first ever World cup final hopefuls Belgium square it off with 1998 World Cup champions France in Saint Petersburg for a spot in the final, where the winner will face either Croatia or England on Sunday in Moscow.
It is a tie that features no shortage of exceptional talent as a French side consisting of stars the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba go head to head with Belgium’s own Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku in what promises to be an intense and epic battle.
The match offers a little bit of a premier league showdown between the two teams as four members of the France starting 11: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), N’golo Kante (Chelsea), Paul Pogba (Man Utd) and Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) and potentially nine to ten of the Belgian side: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Vincent Kompany (Man City), Marouane Fellaini (Man Utd), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd), Nacer Chadli (West Brom) and Mousa Dembele (Tottenham) all ply their trade in England’s Top division.
The two sides have arguably been the competition’s best two thus far, with both teams really hitting their stride heading into this tie, knocking out some heavy hitters en route. France, who’ve scored 9 goals and conceded just 4 so far in the competition, finished top of Group C and proceeded to beat Argentina (4-3) and Uruguay (2-0) to reach the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Belgium who’ve scored a whopping 14 goals (that’s an average of 2.8 goals per game) and conceded 5 won Group H, then beat Japan (3-2) in the round of 16 and stunned Brazil (2-1) in the quarterfinals.
The match will be a difficult one for France legend Thierry Henry whose allegiances will most certainly be in conflict as his role in the Belgium dugout as their assistant manager will see his side pitted against his national team in the most high-stakes encounter between the two sides in their respective histories.
The last World Cup match between the two was a less significant affair as they went head to head for the third-place spot in the 1986 World Cup in which France would go on to win 4-2. This was the last competitive match between the two nations but there have been eight international friendlies since.
Belgium won two of those, including the last one: an exhibition three years ago at Stade de France when the Belgians took a three-goal lead five minutes into the second half and held on to win 4-3.