Mbappe skill as France beat Belgium

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And yet, this France was unrecognizable from the French sides they had grown up watching at previous World Cups.

"With my brothers, we have always been more supporters of France than Belgium because we grew up with '98", Hazard said. I'm very happy for my players, we showed character and the right mentality, it was very hard for us tonight.

"I think after our game against Japan, we discussed and we talked with the coach; we concluded that if we played the same way against Brazil, we would lose the game".

In France, sports shops were rapidly selling out of the national soccer strip on Tuesday as fans got ready for the semi-final showdown in St. Petersburg.

"But he did know that, from the time he was joining the management team and becoming assistant to Martinez, that could happen".

The 19-year-old has three goals already at the tournament.

Belgium is tournament's top scorer so far with 14 goals. They come in to the match on the back of an impressive, if somewhat nervy, victory over Brazil in the last round and the Spanish boss believes their preparations are starting to pay off.

'I would not say that the team in front was better than us, ' he told BeIN Sport, via Eurosport.

Midfielder Paul Pogba has dedicated France's World Cup semi-final win over Belgium to the young footballers rescued from flooded caves after an 18-day ordeal in Thailand.

However, the Manchester United boss singled out Pogba, his charge at Old Trafford, for particular praise, heralding the player's "mature" performance but also criticizing numerous Belgian players for "hiding" on the biggest stage. Roberto Martinez's men arrive to the semifinals with a lot of momentum their way heading into this match, but France is not going to be an easy opponent.

I don't expect either side to sit back and play negative. "That's the quality that he has". They are trained by Didier Deschamps, who won the Cup in 1998 as a player and is now trying to do the same as a coach.

Nacer Chadli deputised for the suspended Thomas Muenier at right wing-back, allowing Moussa Dembele to join the midfield. The one thing missing for this French squad is an worldwide title.

"Will they do something similar for us? I do not have the words", Mbappe said to TF1.

"France was good at the basic things of the game". Giving an insight into his managerial nous, Mourinho explained set piece training ideally fits the World Cup schedule, which results in a reduced reliance on goals from open play.

With a berth in the final against the victor of Wednesday's other semifinal between Croatia and England awaiting, France is now the firm favorite to lift the Jules Rimet trophy on Sunday. With the sides hard to separate on paper, how they handle the pressure, and perhaps those little nuggets of inside knowledge, could make all the difference.