In Review

World Cup semi-final: France vs. Belgium starting XIs, predictions, betting odds, TV

Could French icon Thierry Henry hold the key to Belgian success?

France vs. Belgium

  • What: World Cup semi-final 
  • When: Tuesday 10 July 
  • Where: Saint Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg 
  • Kick-off time: 7pm 
  • TV channel: live on BBC One 

With so many world-class players on display this World Cup semi-final should be an absolute classic - or it will end in a drab goalless draw with the winners reaching Sunday’s final via a penalty shoot-out.

Let’s assume though that it won’t finish 0-0. Belgium are buzzing after their victory over Brazil while France are flying following their win against Uruguay.

There’s not much to choose between the two sides: both have superb goalkeepers, strong defences and attacking talent in abundance.

Les Bleus will include Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe in their starting XI while the Red Devils’ line-up will feature Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.

Maybe Belgium will have a trick up their sleeves against their European rivals? Belgium’s assistant coach Thierry Henry won the World Cup with France in 1998 and he will be “plotting his nation’s downfall” in St Petersburg on Tuesday, the Daily Mail reports. 

Henry goes up against former France team-mate Didier Deschamps, the 1998 World Cup-winning captain. Now France’s head coach, Deschamps admits it will be “strange” to see Henry in the opposite dugout.

“It is weird,” said Deschamps, “because he is French and that he will be on the bench of the opposition. For him as well, it will feel weird.”

Henry himself says his role is to help the Belgium squad. He said: “I am not the manager, nor am I the assistant manager. I’m the T3, the third coach. From the beginning I have said that everybody had to keep calm. It’s not the Thierry Henry show; I am here to help the squad.”

France vs. Belgium starting XIs and formations

France vs. Belgium predictions

Sports Illustrated: “Calling this one is immensely difficult. Both sides are coming off of impressive quarter-final performances and there is a sense that the winner of the tournament will probably come from this tie. It's going to be a thrilling match no doubt and don't be surprised if this one ends up going the full distance. Prediction: France 2-1 Belgium.”

Fox Sport Asia: “This should be a very intriguing match-up given the depth of talent that these two teams have. France have the personnel to take this game wide open, especially with Belgium being sloppy on the defensive end at times. But if they [Belgium] play their style of football they can play the role of the capable underdog and beat the mighty French team and book a spot in the final.”

Robert Kidd, Forbes: “I backed Brazil to get the better of Belgium in the quarter-final and won’t make the mistake of underestimating the Red Devils again. Before the tournament I fancied France but Belgium have the momentum and I think they will win it, 2-1.”

France vs. Belgium betting odds

Best prices according to Oddschecker (as of 10 July)

  • France to win: 8/5 
  • Draw: 9/4 
  • Belgium to win: 2/1

First goalscorer

  • Antoine Griezmann (France): 11/2
  • Romelu Lukaku (Belgium): 11/2 
  • Kylian Mbappe (France): 6/1 
  • Olivier Giroud (France): 13/2
  • Michy Batshuayi (Belgium): 13/2 
  • Eden Hazard (Belgium): 15/2 
  • No goalscorer: 17/2 
  • Ousmane Dembele (France): 9/1

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