On this day two years ago, France and Belgium squared off in one of the most aggressive and hard-fought semifinal clashes in the history of the FIFA World Cup. France would emerge victorious with a 1-0 win in a game that may be remembered as one of the most stressful in the history of Les Bleus.
This game goes down as a duel between two of the greatest and most talented golden generations for both France and Belgium. These two brilliant attacks and defenses were truly evenly matched. France’s victory allowed them to advance to their third World Cup final. In Belgium’s case, this loss snapped a 24-game winning streak and forced them to compete for the bronze rather than the gold.
— Equipe de France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) July 10, 2018
Headlines of the Game
The French defense
Dealing with an attack led by Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Romelu Lukaku certainly wasn’t going to choir practice for France. France’s formation in this game was 4-2-3-1. The use of four defenders was France’s way to effectively contain Belgium’s dangerous attack.
Belgium came into this game having scored 14 goals in the tournament, which was the most of any team. The odds were certainly not in the favor of the French. However, miraculously, France was able to play with a very well-organized and resilient iron solid defense.
France took the lead in 51st minute courtesy of Samuel Umititi off of a corner kick. Belgium came close time and time again in equalizing only for the French defense to find a way to thwart Belgium’s threats. Belgium’s attack did not show any signs of slowing down or letting up, meaning that France had to continue to play sublime defense in order to keep a clean sheet.
In France’s case, every second of the game was crucial, meaning the defense could not stop defending hard until the final whistle was blown and the game was over. In other words, for France, every second counted.
The Belgian defense
Give Belgium credit for their efforts as they managed to continually deny the aggressive French attack that consisted of the likes of Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, Blaise Matuidi, and Paul Pogba was more than enough to overwhelm to the smart and well-organized Belgian defense.
Right from the beginning, the French attack attempted to get the ball through the net only to come up short repeatedly. However, much like the Belgian attack, the French attack refused to let up. France would use their shortcomings as a reason to be even more aggressive. Their attack would show no mercy while the Belgian defense would show no fear.
Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois
Aside from the brilliant defensive performances from both national teams, the two goalkeepers put themselves in the spotlight, as well. Lloris and Courtois both managed to make sensational and memorable saves in this match.
In the 22nd minute, Lloris’s denying of Toby Alderweireld can’t be forgotten. Courtois denying Matuidi in the 18th minute also comes to the mind of many who remember this match. Lloris and Courtois combined for seven saves in this match.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) July 10, 2018
France went on to win the gold while Belgium claimed the bronze. By winning this game, France improved their record to 3-0 against Belgium in World Cup games. This match had been the first meeting between the two in a World Cup since 1986 where the two squared off in a match to determine who would take home the bronze medal.
France would win, 4-2.