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Belgium failed to come out of France shadow

Belgian football has lived long in the shadow of France football. It was their time to shine and overshadow their historic superior rival and neighbor with their golden generation of footballers, but once again they failed to come out of France shadow. France defeated Belgium 1-0 in FIFA World Cup Russia 2018’s first semifinal to book their place in final for the third time.

Samuel Umtiti’s 51st minute header became the difference between the both sides at final whistle. Red Devils must have dreamed big this time after overcoming Brazil’s challenge and seeing off Japan in a dramatic fashion, but their road once again end at semifinals.

Dark horses were this time turning into favourite, but their dream ends at the hands of pre-tournament favourite. It was a close match. It couldn’t be said that France were a better team on the pitch, but yes it was one decisive moment which took everything away from Belgium.

Roberto Martinez said in his post match, “It was a question of details. Unfortunately, for us the difference was a deadball situation. The game was very close, very tight. It was going to be decided by whoever could find that final touch in the box or a bit of luck in front of the goal. The efforts from the players were magnificent, I couldn’t ask for more.”

Yes, they gave everything on the pitch, but in the end it wasn’t good enough. France made the most of their one chance from the corner ball and Barcelona central-defender Samuel Umtiti rise on the occasion to deliver. He carried his team into the final of 2018 World Cup.

Belgian attacking trio were in full mood. Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard were creating chances, but it wasn’t Romelu Lukaku’s day at up front. He failed to capitalize on the chances created. He could have equalized in the 89th minute when De Bruyne brilliantly sets him up with a through ball, but Manchester United forward failed to connect the header.

France did a brilliant job of defending to deal with numerous crosses coming inside their penalty area. Raphael varane and Samuel Umtiti’s central-defending pair knew about Belgium’s strength, they didn’t allow them to play to their strengths.

Dries Mertens put numerous crosses inside the France penalty area in his 30 minutes of display coming off the bench, but none of them were on target by the connecting players. De Bruyne and Hazard has a frustrating day as well. France deal with them evenly after getting the lead and their threat never caused trouble, because it was more of urgency and frustration than having a better look at the goal.

Lukaku will once again be the scapegoat for Belgium as he missed some decent opportunities and half chances. But, it was more of a collective failure. Roberto Martinez’s plan didn’t work against France, and even if you say that it worked, it wasn’t just their day.

They’ll have to live longer under France’s shadow. Belgium defeat against France once again denied from further progress in the tournament. Their best finish at FIFA World Cup is fourth, when they lost 2-0 to Argentina in 1986’s semi-final. Here, they had the chance to do better but their long time rival and neighbor kept them away from glory. This time their only chance to do better is to fight for third-place finish against the loser of Croatia vs. England match. It was France who denied them third place finish in 1986 defeating them 4-2. And once again, France take the glory away from them snatching a victory in semi-final. It only proves that Belgium will have to live in the shadow of France little longer.


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