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Belgium’s Hazard spells World Cup danger for France

09 July 2018

Talking to beIN Sports France ahead of Tuesday's World Cup semifinal clash between the two in Saint Petersburg, the Chelsea star spoke about the Paris Saint-Germain forward in glowing terms.

We've had a 7-1 (Germany v Brazil 2014) and a 3-2 (Holland v Uruguay 2010) in recent World Cup semis so it's mistaken to think that teams are gripped by fear at this stage of the tournament.

Olivier Giroud shares the same opinion: "He gives his precise and important advice to the Belgians". Eden Hazard's World Cup prediction. The Manchester United man has become a key figure in midfield, having showed some impressive defensive acumen while always being an outlet in the final third whenever the crosses flow in.

His display against Brazil was sensational despite the fact that he didn't find the back of the net or assist a teammate as his mazy dribbling skills confounded the Samba Boys as they were at a loss to recover the ball from him.

Belgium's Thomas Meunier will miss the game after picking up a second yellow card but France will be buoyed by the return of defensive midfielder Blaise Matuidi, after sitting out a suspension of his own.

Tom Fornelli's take: It's essentially a toss-up here, but in the end I just trust France's ability to defend better than Belgium's right now.

"We have spoken a few times over the phone", the Belgium skipper said. It's that latter trait which could be tested by the Belgium. After emerging from a relatively easy group, the Three Lions scraped past Colombia on penalties and beat Sweden 2-0 on Saturday, to book its first World Cup semifinal in 28 years.

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So far in Russia, Hazard looks like a man on a mission to ensure Belgium's so-called golden generation live up to their billing by bringing home the World Cup for the first time in the country's history.

He does many things, it is the players around him that benefit.

A player who wasn't really in Roberto Martinez's plans as a starter for the World Cup. Maybe it's just the Arsenal fan in me picking against the Tottenham trophy-less players (like Kane), but I think England's attack goes dry at the worst possible time and Croatia squeaks by with only one goal.

Deschamps insists Giroud is crucial to their system.

At the quarterfinal rounds, Hazard was spot on after tipping Belgium's Red Devils to overcome Brazil's Selecao as well as France beating Uruguay.

On Tuesday they will face their former player Thierry Henry, who won the World Cup with France in 1998 and is now an assistant manager with Belgium.

The Red Devils have also shown that, unlike their last two major worldwide tournaments, the big matches do not faze them.

Belgium’s Hazard spells World Cup danger for France