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Thierry Henry's 'heart will be split' by World Cup semifinal

10 July 2018

Clearly, the World Cup semifinal set for Tuesday and for St. Petersburg Stadium and for a nosy global television audience has gone misplaced, for it really ought to take place in somebody's backyard near the French-Belgian border, perhaps within driving distance of Lille.

The two countries share 385 miles of border. The simple and the sublime, never better demonstrated by the glided free-kick to present Thierry Henry with a routine victor.

Belgium's tactical flexibility could be their secret weapon in going all the way to lift the World Cup, Martinez has now masterminded the win over Brazil and the Spanish coach will now be relishing the tactical test against France.

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Belgium are the top scorers with 14 goals, which some are crediting to the influence of Henry, while both sides have had goals from all around the pitch.

Jean-Marie Pfaff, the Belgium goalkeeper when they last reached the World Cup semi-finals in 1986, told AFP's German sports agency SID that Henry would be "France's main opponent" in the semi-final. Croatia will play England in the semifinals on Wednesday.

De Bruyne's bristling intensity means first impressions do not immediately recall Zidane's languid dominance of the field.

"I don't know", he said. Expect him to make plenty of runs on the shoulder of the Manchester City centre-back, leading to a frantic end-to-end game with plenty of goals.

'But yes maybe he is going to sing La Marseillaise.

The two countries face each other tomorrow night, with the victor facing either England or Croatia in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday.

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The last time the sides met, in a friendly in June 2015, ended 4-3 to Belgium with Marouane Fellaini scoring twice. They also helped Fox hit new ratings highs for its coverage of this year's World Cup .

In other ways, it's just weird.

"I've spoken to him on the phone quite a few times". We would then be able to do so much less than what we can actually do.

Belgium will depend upon Martinez's match awareness, Henry's experience as a French legend and the ability of their players to overcome a strong French side in the first semi-final.

But also: "Of course it's a hard situation".

Deschamps then noted how club players return to homelands as an enemy sometimes.

"During the match everyone will be on their own side, and we will do everything to seize any opportunity to reach the final of the World Cup". I pretend I'm old, but I do not think I'm old (laughs).

I know wing-back Nacer Chadli, who is likely be to directly up against Mbappe, said he is as good as Lionel Messi was at his age, but I disagree.

Henry himself says his role is to help the Belgium squad.

"He'll be happy if we win because above all else he is a Frenchman", the 22-year-old left-back said. "That's his job now". Belgium was 2-0 down against Japan in the last 16 and looking like it would crash out in similar circumstances to its shock loss to Wales in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.

Belgium's come-from-behind win in the last 25 minutes of their second round tie against Japan would have made Roy of the Rovers envious while France produced a venomous sting in their tale to sweep past Argentina, after also finding themselves trailing in the second half. Having won all their group games decisively, Belgium have remained unbeaten in the World Cup thus far. In terms of the qualities of the individual personnel, it's no contest: N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi would be better than most midfield trios you could care to name, but might Belgium have a more effective unit? Kane carries England's hopes of glory as the Three Lions hunt their first World Cup crown since 1966, when they claimed the trophy on home soil.

Thierry Henry's 'heart will be split' by World Cup semifinal