The 2018 World Cup is reaching the penultimate stage as the semifinals feature four UEFA sides facing off. First the starpower of France take on the firepower of Belgium on Tuesday, as European neighbors become bitter rivals for at least 90 minutes. On Wednesday, the dark horse story of the tournament, Croatia, will face off with an England side that is dreaming of a second World Cup title to add to their footballing history. Our panelists offer up their predictions.
France vs Belgium (Tuesday on St. Petersburg)
Steen Kirby: Romelo Lukaku and Kylian Mbappe are the centerpiece players to watch in this one while Paul Pogba/N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard/Kevin De Bruyne shine in the midfield. These two evenly balanced sides feature some of the giants of football and this is a true heavyweight clash. Belgium has a (slightly) better attack, but France could take advantage of a Belgian backline that is probably the worst of the remaining teams in the tournament. France will need to play with ambition to win, but I expect Belgium to punch back enough to send this game to penalties. France 3-2 (after extra time and penalties)
Shiven Mohindra: Both teams have been excellent so far in the tournament. France will look to play a possession heavy game and use their talent to rip through the Belgian defence. Belgium will try and utilise the counter attack and punish France with their pace and power. Both sides are stacked with talent and have a good mix of youth and experience. In what will be a very close affair, Deschamps’ France will prevail. France 1-0
Lukas Weese: What a star studded semi final. France consists of Greizmann, Pogba and Mbappe taking on Belgium’s powerful front three of De Bruyne, Lukaku and Hazard. While Belgium was cranking up the pressure in their quarterfinal, there were periods of the match that Brazil was implementing a ferocious attack. France’s defensive core, led by Pogba, is way more deep and stronger than Brazil’s. It should be a very close game but I think France’s depth will prevail to advance them to their first World Cup Final since 2006. France 2-1