While England jet off to Moscow as the preparations intensify for their World Cup semi-final with Croatia, France and Belgium will battle it out in St Petersburg for the other spot in this weekend’s showpiece.
Here, FP looks a look at Tuesday’s key World Cup events.
Lukaku looks to up the Golden Boot ante against France
Belgium hitman Romelu Lukaku has fired in four goals so far in Russia, but his unselfish play has been just as vital as his finishing in guiding Roberto Martinez’s men to the semi-finals. Belgium have reached the World Cup’s last four for the first time since 1986, where they wound up facing – and losing to – France in the third-place play-off. This time though, Manchester United striker Lukaku will be intent on not just advancing Belgium to the final, but also chasing down the tournament’s six-goal leading scorer, England captain Harry Kane.
Kylian Mbappe bids to spearhead France’s charge
France’s teenage striker Mbappe was not born the last time Les Bleus won the World Cup, on home soil in 1998. But the Paris St Germain forward has earned widespread plaudits for his performances in propelling his side into the last four. Now the 19-year-old will seek to produce another top-drawer showing against Belgium in a bid to seal a spot in Sunday’s final for the French.
England meet the press before Wednesday’s semi-final
England will make the trip to Moscow from their training base in Repino as their preparations for Wednesday’s last-four clash with Croatia intensify. After their travels, England will meet the press at Luzhniki Stadium to map out their fine-tuning ahead of taking on the Croats. Manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane will be hoping England have all their players fit and available, after all 23 trained on Monday.
Hazard versus Kante could decide Belgium’s clash with France
Chelsea team-mates Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante will face each other down in midfield, with the winner of that particular duel potentially being key to which team reaches the final. The clash of contrasting styles could prove compelling viewing, with influential Belgium playmaker Hazard aiming to escape the clutches of France’s defensive linchpin Kante. So often the pair have dovetailed in style for Chelsea, but now they will look to outdo the other in national-team colours.
Martinez could switch formations once again
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez could revert to a back four to take on the French, after a three-man defence proved sufficient to see off Brazil 2-1 in the quarter-finals. Martinez’s men must do without the suspended Thomas Meunier for their last-four encounter with France, and that may force the manager’s hand into tinkering with his formation. Nacer Chadli could be pressed into service on the right, with Yannick Carrasco slotting in on the other midfield flank in a 4-4-2.
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