Belgium vs France (2-3) Oct 7, 2021 Match Preview and Stats | FootballCritic

France will meet Belgium in the Nations League semi-final Thursday in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup semi-final.

Didier Deschamps’ side won on that occasion by a single goal scored by Samuel Umtiti six minutes into the second half.

While the narrative is that the pragmatism of Les Bleus secured a smash-and-grab victory on that evening, in reality, Deschamps’ men completed a well-executed victory. They might only have posted 36% of possession, but they limited their opponents to three shots on target over the course of the fixture.

Nevertheless, this is a revenge mission that the Belgians have long been waiting for.

Belgium will have to do without Thierry Henry on their bench for the match. France’s all-time record scorer has a bad back and will not be among the coaching staff.

On the playing front, meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund right-back Thomas Meunier, Rennes winger Jeremy Doku and Napoli attacker Dries Mertens are all on the sidelines.

There are also doubts over centre-back Jason Denayer, who did not train on Tuesday. If he is absent, Dedrick Boyata will take his place in the squad.

Equally, Thorgan Hazard is not 100% certain to be fit and could have his spot taken by Alexis Saelemaekers.

France have a far healthier squad. Les Bleus are only set to miss N’Golo Kante, who has Covid.

Karim Benzema will lead the line supported by Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, while in midfield Adrien Rabiot and Paul Pogba are favourites to start.

Benjamin Pavard will feature on the right while Lucas Digne and Theo Hernandez will battle for the opportunity to play on the left.

Presnel Kimpembe, Raphael Varane and Lucas Hernandez are set to start in a three-man defence in front of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who will win his 133rd cap.

Probable France and Belgium starting XIs

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