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The connections between the two national team setups have become increasingly apparent in the two barren days between the last quarterfinal and the start of the last four.

The French 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 but had been hoping to eliminate his native country as Belgium's assistant coach.

"With my brothers, we have always been more supporters of France than Belgium because we grew up with '98", Hazard said. After all, they have won their five World Cup matches, and their road has been significantly tougher than France's one.

So between Belgium and France, there was never going to be an undeserving World Cup finalist.

France will play in the World Cup final for the first time since 2006 after beating Belgium 1-0 thanks to a goal from Samuel Umtiti in St Petersburg on Tuesday evening.

"The players showed incredible focus and incredible togetherness". However, Deschamps confidently said that everyone would be available for the semi-final.

Martinez' men are the only side to have won all of their games in 90 minutes in Russian Federation and are the tournament's top scorers with 14 goals.

Belgium fans filed quietly out of the arena, while back home they drowned their sorrows in beer after their dreams of a first World Cup final were shattered by their bigger French neighbours.

"I think it's too early to make any sort of assessment on the tournament", said Martinez, who extended his contract through to 2020 shortly before the World Cup.

92-year-old man beaten with brick, told 'go back to Mexico'
Rodriguez, who doesn't understand English, still has no idea why he was attacked, his grandson, Erik Mendoza, told KCBS . A video was taken by a witness showing a woman who appears to be African American with a brick in her hand.

Belgium have scored at least two goals in all but one game during this competition.

He found himself an inch of space as Kevin de Bruyne threaded him through with a deft touch but the forward was unable to find the mark.

Mbappe's incredible backheel then put Giroud clear on goal but the striker's effort was well blocked by Mousa Dembele. "That's the quality that he has".

And that makes it easier for Martinez to switch tactics - which he's frequently prone to do - as he attempts to both create chances for his attacking lineup and stifle the threat of speedy France forwards Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. At that point, the French dropped back to defend, and a Belgium side that had looked so full of ideas for the first 40 minutes of the game suddenly had no idea what to do.

"Belgium played a great game against Brazil with a specific game plan".

"Will they do something similar for us?"

However, Umtiti popped up with the game's telling moment early in the second half, nodding the ball home to score his third global goal.

'I would not say that the team in front was better than us, ' he told BeIN Sport, via Eurosport.

They'll get one on Wednesday, when a pair of mild-to-medium surprises - England and Croatia - face off in the second semifinal at the Luzhniki Stadium, site of the final in four days' time.


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