France is first team in World Cup final, beat Belgium 1-0

Hazard to go up against adopted France of his hero Zidane

It is a pity that players of the calibre of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne wouldn't adorn the final on Sunday but the French victory once again proved that football is played by teams rather than individuals. "I prefer to lose with this Belgium than win with that France", said the Belgium captain. The athletic Chadli came on next and made the sprint in the last-minute counter-attack to score the victor. Youngster Kylian Mbappe is developing into one of the stories of the tournament. "You have to accept it and congratulate France and wish them luck in the final". Again, there are those excluded who may have been more proven internationally but would not necessarily be likely to buy into Deschamps' planning in quite the same way. Now, two former teammates face each other in World Cup Semi-final match.

Numerous country's "Golden Generation" - like Hazard, de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Courtois - are still aged under 28.

But it wasn't those flashes of neon brilliance that took France past Belgium in a 1-0 win that sent thousands out to celebrate on the Champs-Elysees. Yet that felt overly harsh.

So this should not be a time for regret and recrimination. He was lucky not be booked in the first half.

Deschamps' players let Belgium burn itself out, deprived it first of hope, and then of life, all the while not expending a drop of energy more than was strictly necessary. In a World Cup lacking a signature tactic, the boldest, most brilliant strategy came when Martinez ripped up his blueprint against Brazil, installed De Bruyne as a false nine, played Lukaku on the right and confounded the favourites.

The Senator was undecided on whether to back Les Blues or the Red Devils but this did not go down well with one netizen who pointed out the leader's inconsistency throughout the tournament.

"I think the manager deserves a lot of credit because against Argentina and Uruguay, and even [against Belgium], his plan was ideal", he said.

Doubters have been answered.

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku, left, jumps for the ball with France's Raphael Varane during the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Lukaku is the supposed flat-track bully who, without scoring, bullied Brazil.

It was only in the quarterfinal, against Uruguay, that it finally broke that trend of squeaking by, but only thanks a header off a set piece and an egregious error from Fernando Muslera, the Uruguayan goalkeeper. Yannick Carrasco and Mousa Dembele had underwhelming tournaments, but few of their colleagues did. "I'm proud of the way we performed and of our World Cup".

After reaching the quarterfinals at both the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016, Belgium again missed the chance to get to an worldwide final and has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations. He was no weak link but Thomas Meunier's suspension nevertheless showed the gulf in resources between the neighbours.

"That is football. What they do, they do well".

Related news: