Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Martinez: France's Henry is missing ingredient for Belgium

Martinez: France's Henry is missing ingredient for Belgium

"He's become a star in France but when I was playing against him for City against Monaco he'd only played 10 matches", he started. Born two months apart in 1993 - Pogba is the older of the two - they had gone on to share the same agent (Lukaku recently moved from Mino Raiola to Jay-Z's Roc Nation) and the same postcode.

So not only do we not know what he thinks about Tuesday's World Cup semi-final clash against his native France, we don't really know what he thinks about his role at all.

Hazard has arguably been the outstanding player of the tournament and pulled Brazil and their right back Fagner around the field in their quarter-final.

Didier Deschamps side ground out narrow victories against Australia and Peru before playing out a tiresome 0-0 draw with Denmark - the only goalless draw of the tournament thus far. Kylian Mbappe stole the show, scoring twice in a breath taking display.

"Do you think Belgium will have a comeback if France were leading 2-0 like they did against Japan?" Belgium is the highest-ranked team left in the competition, sitting at number three in the world, with France at number seven.

Both teams have come through a more testing side of the draw in fairness, with Les Bleus beating Argentina and Uruguay to get to this point, and Belgium had five-time winners Brazil in their way.

However, this apparent inexperience must not be mistaken for The Red Devils' weakness. The teenager's performance in the 4-3 win was memorable to say the least, with Mbappe drawing plaudits left, right and centre, and understandably so.

Kompany looked shaken by Brazil's speed in the second half of the quarter-final, which will give Mbappe confidence. Martinez got his tactics spot on, dishing out a masterclass in counter-attacking football, winning the match 2-1.

Previously, as a TV pundit, Henry suggested that Giroud was not good enough, saying in 2015 that Arsenal could not win the English Premier League with him in attack and needed "a top, top-quality striker". They've nearly played an extra game at this point while England more or less strolled through Saturday's match with Sweden after resting everyone in its group stage meeting with Belgium.

RTBF is airing the World Cup in Belgium, where the main supermarket chain there, Delhaize, is closing an hour early tonight so its employees can watch the 8 PM game.

Belgium offers multiple threats, including the speed and trickery of forward Eden Hazard and the strength and finishing of striker Romelu Lukaku, who has scored four goals in Russian Federation. Jan Ceulemans opened the scoring for Belgium 11 minutes in, before France levelled with a strike from Jean-Marc Ferreri. However, things will be far more complicated for France this time around.

There's always been a degree of friendly tension between the two, with France regarding Belgium, and its French-speaking Wallonia region, as something of a poor cousin, while the Belgians often dismiss France as patronizing and faux-superior. Harry Kane has more goals but the Manchester United striker's performances have been brilliant even when he didn't find the net: see his dummy for the victor against Japan, or the run that set up De Bruyne against Brazil.

Calling this one is immensely hard.

Considering the attacking strength of both squads, the smart money is probably on the over. France welcome back midfielder Blaise Matuidi after suspension. He has been crucial to Belgium's success and he will be a big loss for the Red Devils.

France will have to be at its best to shut him down.

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