France take on Belgium this evening in the opening semi-final of World Cup 2018 at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Russia, where the teams compete for a place in Sunday’s final.
France’s 2-0 victory over Uruguay last time out was their third victory over South American opposition at this tournament, and made them just the second side to achieve that fete at a World Cup, after the Netherlands in 1974.
Their most recent appearance in the last four came in 2006, when a 1-0 victory over Portugal set up a final match against Italy, which they subsequently lost.
They come into tonight’s encounter having scored with each of their last six shots on target, though they were helped enormously by Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, who failed to deal with a long-range effort from Antoine Griezmann that should have resulted in a routine save.
They were spared a fourth outing against a South American team when Belgium recorded a 2-1 victory over Brazil in the quarter-finals, which saw them qualify for this stage for the first time since the tournament in Mexico in 1986.
An own goal from Fernandinho was followed by a sublime strike by his Manchester City teammate Kevin de Bruyne to give the Belgians a 2-0 lead, which was enough to secure their passage to the next stage despite a headed goal from Brazilian substitute Renato Augusto with 15 minutes remaining.
The victory for Roberto Martinez’s men ensured the semi-finals would feature four European sides for the first time since 2006.
The match will also be streamed live via the BBC iPlayer.
Tuesday 10 July
19.00 (BBC One) France v Belgium
Wednesday 11 July
19.00 (ITV) Croatia v England
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