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Jul 9, 2018

World Cup semi-final preview: France vs. Belgium

France vs. Belgium odds

Inform your France vs. Belgium prediction

Analysing the France vs. Belgium stats

Who will reach the World Cup final?

World Cup semi-final preview: France vs. Belgium

France take on Belgium in the first semi-final of the 2018 World Cup. Looking for value in the France vs. Belgium odds? Read on to inform your France vs. Belgium prediction.

A close look at the France vs. Belgium odds

The Money Line odds imply this will be a close game with France afforded around a 40%* chance of winning the game in 90 minutes.

France are also slight favourites to reach the final at 1.800*.

France vs. Belgium predicted lineups

Belgium:

Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Chadli, Witsel, Fellaini, Carrasco; De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku

Thomas Meunier’s suspension means Yannick Carrasco is likely to return to the side after being dropped against Brazil.

France:

Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba; Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud

Matuidi returns from suspension and could replace Tolisso in the left-midfield position.

France vs. Belgium stats

Time: 19:00 UTC

Venue: Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg

  • Belgium have scored the most goals of any team in the competition (14 goals)
  • France have kept clean sheets in three of their five matches
  • Belgium are the only team to have won all of their matches so far
  • Both teams have scored in three of Belgium’s five matches

    Inform your France vs. Belgium prediction

    The first World Cup semi-final sees France play Belgium at the Saint Petersburg stadium.

    The game should provide an interesting clash of styles as Roberto Martinez’s attacking 3-4-3 formation meets Didier Deschamps’ more pragmatic 4-2-3-1.

    Belgium have reached the last four by relying on their firepower in attack. Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne have all appeared on the scoresheet in this tournament and are likely to line up in a rotating front three here.

    They will be up against a strong defensive line. Despite the attacking talent at his disposal, Deschamps has chosen to field four centre-backs in his backline as well as selecting a central midfield player at on the left ahead of more attacking options.

    This has seen the French progress in generally untroubled fashion, aside from a late scare against Argentina. They have been difficult to break down throughout and are unlikely to be overly expansive against Belgium.

    2018 World Cup expected goals (per match)

    France:

    • Expected goals for: 1.6
    • Expected goals against: 0.7

    Belgium:

    • Expected goals for: 2.3
    • Expected goals against: 1.3

      This is for good reason since the Belgians will be the most cohesive attacking unit this French side has faced. They made the most of their chances to defeat tournament favourites Brazil and scored three or more goals in two of their group matches as well as their Round of 16 victory over Japan.

      France are well equipped to deal with Belgium’s counterattacking threat but, with the talent available to the Belgians in attack, they will be hard pressed to keep them out for the duration of the match. The onus will be on the French forwards to score the goals required to take them to the World Cup final.

      Key area: Can Belgium’s wing-backs cope with the French threat?

      Nacer Chadli replaced Carrasco at left wing back in Belgium’s last fixture but Thomas Meunier’s suspension means both players are likely to be called upon for the semi-final. 

      Chadli’s role could be very different in this match compared to the quarter-final match against Brazil. In that game 43% of Brazil’s attacks came from their left side with Neymar and Marcelo up against Meunier.

      In contrast 43% of Belgium’s attacks took place on their own left side. Chadli played a much more attacking role than Meunier and relied upon the awareness of Jan Vertonghen to cover for his attacking exertions.

      Meunier made a team-high four tackles in that win whilst Chadli made just one. It is likely he will be tested more frequently in defence in this fixture since he will be up against the exciting Kylian Mbappe.

      The Frenchman has three goals in the tournament so far and will fancy his chances of adding to that total. He is available at 3.020* to score anytime and will be favoured to win the battle with Chadli.

      On the opposite side Blaise Matuidi or Corentin Tolisso could be up against the returning Carrasco, who was replaced by Chadli for the match against Brazil.

      Carrasco is better known as an attacking winger and has been defensively naïve at times in this tournament, particularly during the Round of 16 victory over Japan which saw him dropped for the next round.

      However, neither Matuidi nor Tolisso are natural wingers so it will be interesting to see how this battle unfolds.

      An appearance at some stage from Ousmane Dembele, who is one of Europe’s most prolific assisters from the wide positions, would add to France’s considerable attacking threat but Deschamps may be reluctant to leave space for Belgium to break.

      If, as seems likely, Mbappe can get the best of Chadli then the Belgian centre-backs will be in for a tough evening. Vertonghen will have to cover for his wingback allowing gaps to appear for Giroud and Griezmann to exploit. Both strikers are more than capable of winning one on one matchups should they isolate their opposite numbers.

      France vs. Belgium: Where is the value?

      Meunier’s absence is a big blow for Belgium. He is the only natural fullback in the squad and his experience in the role was pivotal against Neymar in the last round. As a result, France should be well set to threaten from wide positions, particularly through Mbappe.

      France are available at 1.645* to score over one goal which could offer value considering the obvious weaknesses in the Belgian back five.

      Equally, whilst Belgium could be suspect defensively they have the talent to threaten any defence in World football.

      De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku have been on good form so far and it will be a tough task for even the French defence to keep them out for 90 minutes. Fellaini, Witsel and the Belgian central defenders also offer a potent threat on set pieces, especially with De Bruyne over the ball.

      Both teams to score in normal time is available at 1.787* and could be a sensible selection considering the attacking firepower on display.

      To make the most of our best value odds make sure to read more of Pinnacle’s expert betting advice.

      Odds subject to change

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