Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku during the warm-up
Belgium are taking on France tonight in the second of the Nations League semi-finals. The two European heavyweights meet in Turin, aiming to reach Sunday’s final where Spain await after knocking out Italy last night.
Belgium remain the world’s No1 ranked team but are still without a piece of major silverware, and time is running out for Roberto Martinez’s golden generation of stars. France are the reigning world champions, but both sides disappointed in the recent Euros and are looking to make amends.
Belgium are without attackers Dries Mertens and Jeremy Doku and defender Thomas Vermaelen, while Eden Hazard has yet to play 90 minutes this season for Real Madrid. France are missing N’Golo Kante due to the Chelsea midfielder’s positive Covid-19 test, but the in-form Karim Benzema is in the squad. Follow all the action from the game below, live.
Deschamps returns to Turin
France head coach Didier Deschamps returns to Turin this evening where he played for Juventus between 1994-99 and managed the club during the 2006/07 season.
He says it’s a happy return and goes so far as to call Turin his second home. He said:
“It makes me very happy: I’m going to see a lot of people I met at this club again, it’s my second home. After five years as a player, I cut short my stint as a coach. When I did that, it felt like the best decision. Looking back, it’s not the best I’ve taken. With a little more hindsight, with experience, I would have acted differently. I had less perspective; I was more impulsive.”
Belgium vs France prediction: How will Nations League semi-final play out tonight?
Belgium play France tonight in the Uefa Nations League semi-finals, in what is their first meeting since the last four of the World Cup in 2018.
Roberto Martinez’s side advanced past England, Denmark and Iceland to qualify for the second edition of the Nations League finals, while France progressed out of a group that included defending champions Portugal, as well as Sweden and Croatia.
Both sides secured their places last November but have since been in action at the Euro 2020 finals and in World Cup qualifying. Belgium’s run at the Euros was ended by eventual champions Italy in the quarter-finals, while France were eliminated by Switzerland on penalties in the last 16.
Predicting how Belgium vs France will play out tonight
Everything you need to know ahead of the Nations League semi-final clash
Fans are ready to go
Fans of both Belgium and France are starting to fill up the Juventus Stadium in Turin. Kick off is half an hour away and the teams are going through their warm ups out on the pitch.
Martinez speaks to the media
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez says he’s excited about the opportunity to face France and potentially Spain during this international break. He compares the Nations League with a club competition that sees the best teams play each other with silverware at stake.
Martinez on verge of record
Roberto Martinez has been Belgium coach for five years. He is one the most successful managers the country has ever had, although he has yet to win a major title for Belgium.
If Belgium win tonight, Martinez would match Guy Thys’s record for Belgium wins. Thys needed 108 games to get to 51 wins and this is just Martinez’s 65th game.
His record is 50 wins, nine draws and five defeats to date. That’s an average of 2.48 points per game, the best of any Belgium coach.
Belgium vs France
The beauty of the Nations League is the opportunity to see the best international teams go up against each other in competitive matches outside the World Cup and the European Championship.
Last night’s clash between Spain and Italy was full of drama, tension and skill, things which can be lost during friendly fixtures. Belgium are the No. 1 ranked team in the world and France are the reigning World Cup champions. Tonight’s match is a clash of giants and fingers crossed the action lives up to it.
Spain awaits tonight’s winner
One of either Belgium or France will face Spain in the Nations League final on Sunday after Luis Enrique’s side defeated the European champions Italy last night.
Here’s the story of the first semi-final, lets up tonight’s game lives up to it.
Spain end 10-man Italy’s unbeaten run to reach Nations League final
Italy 1-2 Spain: Ferran Torres scored twice as Leonardo Bonucci was sent off in Milan
Deschamps targeting Nations League trophy
More from Didier Deschamps who says he is putting France’s poor Euro 2020 campaign, where they got knocked out in the last-16 to Switzerland, behind him. He’s focused on the job ahead and the opportunity of winning the Nations League if his side get past Belgium tonight. He said:
“[Euro 2020] is behind us now. There’s a trophy up for grabs; a semi-final against one of the best teams in the world. We gave our all to get here from a very competitive group. We want this trophy. In the past, there were two international titles, the Euro and the World Cup. There are now three with the Nations League, and we want to win it.”
Deschamps on Hernandez brothers
Lucas and Theo Hernandez both start for France this evening in a rare situation which sees two brothers both in the starting XI for their country.
French coach Didier Deschamps spoke about the unusal coincidence saying: “I have not experienced [anything similar] as a coach. The Revelli brothers [Hervé and Patrick] did it in the ‘70s, when I was very small. They have this family bond. This does not mean that it changes anything, but I will be dealing with two players who have this connection.”
Belgium vs France – Line ups
Belgium XI: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Castagne, Witsel, Tielemans, Carrasco; De Bruyne, Lukaku, Hazard
France XI: Lloris; Kounde, Varane, L. Hernandez; Pavard, Pogba, Rabiot, T. Hernandez; Griezmann; Benzema, Mbappe
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