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World Cup Semifinal Free Pick: Belgium vs France

July 9, 2018

The semifinals of the World Cup begin on Tuesday in Russia with Belgium playing France. The winner will meet the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between Croatia and England in the final on Sunday.

The current line has France slightly favored at 3 to 2, Belgium 2 to 1 and a draw 11 to 5.

France won its only World Cup title in 1998 the year the tournament was hosted by France. For Belgium, reaching the semifinals matches the best the country has ever done in any previous World Cup appearance. They appeared in one semifinals round of the World Cup back in 1986 in Mexico and were eliminated by Argentina, followed by a loss to France in the third place match.

France has a potent attack led by teen star Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Greizmann. The French midfield is anchored by Paul Pogba while the defense has Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti.

If France has a weak spot it is the back line as they allowed Argentina to score three goals in the round of 16.

Belgium is similarly strong up front with Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. Like, France, the Belgians are suspect in the back as they allowed two goals to Japan and were lucky to give up just one to Brazil during the quarterfinals.

However, the Belgians remain unbeaten since manager Roberto Martinez took charge nearly two years ago and have run their winning streak to seven straight matches.

Head to head, France has won three, lost two with three draws in the last seven matches between the two clubs. The most recent head to head was in 2015 when Belgium won 4-3 in an international friendly. Overall this will be the 74th time the two have meet in all competitions, with Belgium holding an edge with 30 wins, to 24 for France and 19 draws.

Belgium is unbeaten in 24 straight matches with 19 wins and five draws. The 14 goals scored by Belgium thus far in this World Cup is the most by a team to reach the semifinals since 2002 when Brazil scored 15.

France has 10 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss in their last 13 matches in World Cup knockout stages. Greizmann has seven goals in his last six matches in the knockout stage in major tournaments for France.

France is likely to make just one change from its starting eleven in the quarterfinals with Blaise Matuidi returning after being suspended.

Belgium will be without Thomas Meunier due to yellow card accumulation.

Prediction: Both teams will press forward on every possession and that will put much pressure on both defenses. Belgium has more firepower and will pull a slight upset with a 2-1 victory.

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