France and Belgium fight it out for World Cup final place

Giroud in action for France. Image PA

The first semi final of the World Cup at Saint Petersburg between Belgium and France promises to be a classic.

Here's all you need to know. "Thierry Henry brings that".

It will be interesting to see what approach Roberto Martinez takes with his back line. The Arsenal legend was part of the 1998 France side that won the tournament on home soil, and Martinez hailed his influence on his ambitious squad.

Former French captain Henry scored 51 goals in 123 worldwide appearances, also winning the European championship title in 2000, playing alongside Deschamps.

Speaking in the build-up to the match, De Bruyne made a very surprising revelation about 19-year-old France and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

France defender Lucas Hernandez said he was sure Henry would be happy if France beat his employers on Wednesday. He constantly repeats, to anyone who asks, that France never offered him a role.

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet told AFP pointedly that "we've rather lost sight of him and he has little contact with the federation". Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and company are too tired to keep up with England and the another defender on Gareth Southgate's squad comes through with a game-winning header in extra time.

In the US, the match will be available to watch live on Fox at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT as well as on Telemundo.

Somebody close to him said a couple of weeks ago that Henry was "enjoying it".

"Belgium is a country focused on developing its young talent".

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In fact, he has rarely spoken about his role with Belgium during his time working under Martinez, choosing to stay out of the spotlight.

Belgium faced a heart-stopping moment of uncertainty in the first knockout round against Japan, when Martinez's decision to rest players in their final group match against England nearly backfired spectacularly.

Yet now the hidden Henry, who has hinted at his ambitions for a senior management career one day, is about to spend an evening as just about the most scrutinised third-down-the-pecking-order coach in history.

"From the beginning I have said that everybody had to keep calm".

"The manager is the one who will do the talking, I will try to make the team better".

'As a coach you don't have to mention what you have done as player in the past. "And as a coach I haven't proven anything". There's still a sense that he could be doing more with the brilliant set of players at his disposal, France frequently a fairly stodgy team to watch, relying on moments of brilliance from Pogba, Mbappe or Griezmann. De Bruyne only has one goal thus far, but his presence has impacted every Belgian victory thus far. "For him tomorrow it could be a bit hard, but he works for Belgium now, he wants us to win".

In addition to playing a fearless match, the former Everton boss pinpointed the importance of a collective display from a side in which many of its players have been together with the national side for years. But he did know that from the time he became an assistant to [Roberto] Martinez. But this is a hard situation, it is not easy for him'.

"He gives his precise and important advice to the Belgians", the Chelsea forward said.

"Of course, I wish he was with us and was giving advice to me and the other strikers".

"I would be proud to show him that he picked the wrong side".

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