Thierry Henry's 'heart will be split' by World Cup semifinal

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The former Arsenal forward is France's all-time record goalscorer, but for tonight's World Cup semi-final between his native country and Belgium he is going to be in the opposite dug out.

Argentina defeated the Red Devils 2-0 courtesy of a Diego Maradona brace, and 32 years later, they will look to avoid a similar fate against France. Their comeback win over Japan in the Round of 16 was stirring before narrowly beating Brazil in the quarter-finals.

If the squad was deemed too young to compete in 2014, then Euro 2016 was surely a full-blown choke, as they lost to a Welsh team that didn't make it to Russian Federation.

Since Le Bleus' title success at the 1998 World Cup on home soil, Le Bleus are yet to have their hands on the title, though they came close at the 2006 edition but missed out in a dramatic penalty shootout against eventual victor Italy. It was memorable in more ways than one. But he did know that from the time he became an assistant to [Roberto] Martinez.

Of course, it wasn't pretty.

The semi-final on Tuesday will be the 74th meeting between France and Belgium. Thibaut Courtois will be crucial as well, with his shot stopping abilities, something that frustrated Brazil to no end last week. Barring the Renato Augusto goal, the Selecao could not breach the Belgian backline.


They will now aim to stop Lukaku adding to his tally of four goals in the tournament. The Real Madrid-Barcelona duo have held tight when called upon, and produced a real masterclass in keeping Luis Suarez and Uruguay quiet.

Henry, France's all-time top scorer, and second-most-capped player after Lilian Thuram, is trying to help Martinez mastermind a win over his own nation.

Like the playing days of his global manager Didier Deschamps, Kante's silent crusade as an unassuming No 6 in the midst of his celebrity teammates will determine whether France can lift the trophy that has remained elusive to them since it was last held aloft by Deschamps himself in 1998. "It was something we'd worked on in training", Varane would later say about the goal.

Born in the French-speaking part of Belgium, he came through as a player across the border at Lille, and was the outstanding player in the team that won the French league and cup double in 2011 before eventually moving on to Chelsea.

Kylian Mbappe and Samuel Umtiti have Cameroonian roots, while Paul Pogba's family comes from Guinea.

France looked defensively solid in the 2-0 victory over Uruguay.


The pace of Mbappe has to be dealt with; Diego Laxalt did an excellent job but he had the pace to match.

'"I would be proud to show [him] that he chose the wrong camp", Olivier Giroud, the closest active pursuer to Henry's French record of 51 worldwide goals, told reporters. Axel Witsel could assist the Tottenham defender in this regard. Their form, especially Hazard's, will have Deschamps thinking of possible cover for Pavard.

"But also players like (Ousmane) Dembele, (Olivier) Giroud or (N'Golo) Kante have their specific, strong qualities". France welcome back midfielder Blaise Matuidi after suspension. With Belgium's front three likely to come under intense scrutiny, the man to break the shackles could be Nacer Chadli. "But tomorrow, as a professional, he will be channeling all his passion into the Belgian team". His off-the-ball movement and stretching of Belgium's play could just be what Martinez has in mind.

Tactically, the permutations-combinations are endless given the abundance of talent at the disposal of both coaches.

Lloris has faced the vast majority of Belgium's side when playing for English club Tottenham.

"I knew France were going to go far with the team we have".


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