7/8/2018 11:52:35 PM (GMT+3)

France-Belgium semis will be like EB-Bagan derby of 70's and 80: Amalraj

France-Belgium semis will be like EB-Bagan derby of 70

MOSCOW: This World Cup has been cruel on heavyweights Brazil, Argentina and Germany – all former champions.

But, at the same time it’s good to see Belgium and Croatia emerge as a new force. Or, for that matter, England – who has remained an underachiever at the World Cups in the last 25 years.  

France is the only former champions, who will lock horns with a French-speaking nation. Now, that’s going to be a cracker of a match, with both teams appear to be the best so far in the competition.

“As of now Belgium captain Eden Hazard is the best midfielder while Romelu Lukaku is more than a goal-scorer,” former India captain Victor Amalraj told www.khelupdates.com.

In case, there’s a France vs Croatia or Belgium vs Croatia final, it will be keenly contested in terms of technical quality as midfield tussle will be something to watch out for.

Croatia captain Luka Modric is an excellent attacking midfielder while Antoine Griezmann has done so well for the Les Bleus, who are eyeing their second title after 1998 triumph.

“France-Belgium will be something like East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan derby of the 70's and 80's,” added Amalraj, who has played for both the teams and also for Mohammedan Sporting in the 70s and 80s.

Belgium and France both reached the World Cup semifinals in 1986 though on that occasion the draw kept them apart. They did, however, meet in the third-place play-off where France triumphed 4-2.

Interestingly, Belgium knocked out Brazil in this tournament, but 32 years ago it was France who defeated the Selecao at the quarterfinal stage in one of the all-time great World Cup matches which saw Careca and Michel Platini swapped goals before a drama-charged finale.

The Belgians were not very keen to celebrate their journey home after elimination against Argentina in the quarterfinals four years ago, but the Grand Place in Brussels will host a public welcome regardless of what happens against France.

Fans across the globe seem to have more belief in Belgium than the locals do. Various media had a lot of positive things to say about Belgium after their win over Brazil.

“This team goes to the semis with the status of favourites. It is a mature team ready to make it. Against France, their main challenge will be to prevent Mbappe having space, but it should not be a problem as this team seems capable of reinventing itself,” wrote Brazil’s Globo Sports.