Kylian Mbappé surges past Uruguay's Diego Laxalt during the World Cup quarter-final. Photo: Petr David Josek/AP

We’re down to the last four!

What a remarkable World Cup the 2018 edition has been, and there is certainly more drama to come in the final week, starting with Tuesday night’s semi-final between France and Belgium in St Petersburg.

France have the pedigree, having won the title in 1998, reaching the final in 2006 and ending third in 1986.

But Belgium have a number of star players such as Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku who can inspire an upset…

8pm: France v Belgium

Can you believe that Belgium lead the head-to-head record against France? In 73 encounters, the Belgians have won 30 and the French just 24, with 19 draws.

Their last clash was in 2015 in Paris, with Belgium winning 4-3. And with both teams going all-out on attack in Russia, it won’t be a boring 0-0 draw tonight.

The exciting De Bruyne has found his magical touch, and Lukaku’s running off the ball has made him so much more effective.

Just remember the match-winning strike in stoppage time against Japan, with the former surging forward from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ throw-out, and striker Lukaku letting the ball run on in the box for Nacer Chadli to finish.

Add in captain Eden Hazard’s pace and trickery, and Marouane Fellaini’s will and drive, and you’ve got a winning combination.

France, though, are not to be outdone in that department. Teenager Kylian Mbappé is arguably the new biggest young star in world football, with his lethal finishing and blinding pace making difficult to mark.

Paul Pogba has looked like his old self in midfield, N’golo Kante is the rock, and Antoine Griezmann has been full of running upfront.

Perhaps the two defences will separate the two outfits, with French captain Hugo Lloris backed up by quality youngsters Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, as well as the world-class Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti.

Courtois has the dependable Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in front of him, but can they keep Mbappé and Olivier Giroud at bay?

We haven’t even gone into the weird situation of French superstar Thierry Henry being part of the Belgian team management against his 1998 World Cup-winning teammate Didier Deschamps, who is in charge of France.

Will Henry be able to hold those tears back when La Marseillaise rings out at the Saint Petersburg Stadium?

This game is worthy of a World Cup final…

Prediction: France 3-2 Belgium!



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