France will play the winner of England vs Croatia in the final in Moscow on Sunday after beating Belgium 1-0 in the semifinals on Tuesday at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg. Those two teams play in the other semifinal match on Wednesday, also in Moscow. Belgium will contest the third place play-off on Saturday.
it was a set-piece goal in the 51st minute from Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti that set France on its way to it’s first World Cup final since 2006.
Samuel Umtiti ‘s winning header made him the third French defender to score at this tournament, a portent sign perhaps because the last time three French defenders scored at a World Cup was in 1998.
Up in the corporate seats, French President Emmanuel Macron reacted to the goal by shaking the hand of King Philippe of Belgium as FIFA president Gianni Infantino watched on between them.
The difference up front and rock solid at the back, Man of the Match, Samuel Umtiti played the pivotal role in sending France into the Final.
The goal capped an impressive display by Samuel Umtiti, who helped to shut out the most productive attack in the World Cup with 14 goals, and meant three defenders have now scored on France’s route to the final. Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane scored in previous matches.
After the Red Devils dominated the first half, largely thanks to an awesome Eden Hazard, France took responsibility and controlled the match in the second.
Once ahead, France locked down, robbing the Red Devils’ of space to pick through in the final third, grinding down the clock, while looking to strike on the counter, until their place in the Moscow finale was confirmed.
The French players danced on the field after the final whistle and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, who helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in 1998 and is now Belgium’s assistant coach.
France becomes the sixth country to reach the World Cup Final three times or more, after Germany (eight), Brazil (six), Italy (six), Argentina (five) and Netherlands (three).
Belgium last reached the last four 32 years ago and had never beaten Les Bleus in their two previous World Cup meetings. Belgium reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016 but has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations.
France will now play winner of England v Croatia in the Final on Sunday July 15th in Moscow. Belgium will play loser of England v Croatia for Third Place on Saturday July 14th in Saint Petersburg.
France coach Didier Deschamps now has the chance to become the third person to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, after Germany great Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mario Zagallo. As France captain, Deschamps won soccer’s most prized trophy in 1998. No coach has ever taken charge of more France games at the World Cup than Didier Deschamps. Having moved beyond Raymond Domenech and Michel Hidalgo today, he will extend that record even further on Sunday.
“It was a very tight game, there were not many big moments that were going to decide the game. The difference between the defeat or winning was down to one dead-ball situation, that’s how close the game was. We have to give a lot of credit to the way France defended, even having certain attacking players defending very deep and giving us a lot of respect in that way. We couldn’t find the little bit of magic in front of goal or a little bit of luck at times. But if you’re going to lose a game, I’m so proud of the players – you lose with a lot of effort, giving everything you’ve got, driving until the last second. You have to accept it, congratulate France and wish them well for the Final.” Belgium coach, Roberto Martinez said at the post game press conference.
“Their progress is huge. The players today are going to be even stronger in two years’ time and in four years’ time but today they are already competitive. We don’t do everything right but of course there is a progression. I’m very proud of them, I’m very proud of their mentality as well because I know it’s not just that you are playing at a high level that you are going to score goals but with our state of mind we can climb mountains and that’s what we’ve done so far.” France coach, Didier Deschamps said at the post game press conference.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups proceeded to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.