All the News, Previews And Top Tips For the FIFA World Cup Semi Finals

The FIFA World Cup 2018 started with 32 teams, after 60 of the 64 games have been played, we are now down to the last four. France will take on Belgium in the first semifinal while in the second Croatia will host Gareth Southgate’s England who have pleasantly surprised many, including vast swathes of their own fans, by reaching the semifinals of the tournament.

England’s unexpected run to the semifinals has also seen a surge of interest in betting on the tournament in the UK and currently, England are the 5/2 second favourites to win the World Cup, just behind France who are 2/1. Belgium are the 11/4 shots while Croatia are the outsiders of the quartet at 9/2. All odds provided by bet365 Sport and were correct as of 1pm on Tuesday 10th July.

The action gets underway tonight at the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg as France take on Belgium in the first semifinal, before the attention switches to Moscow to the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday night where Croatia will take on England in the second.

Let’s now take a look at both semifinals, preview the teams, how we see the game going and then we will give you our top tips for each game.

France v Belgium

Tonight’s game will be shown live on BBC One and sees two of European football’s most talented sides, and neighbours, clash. The French have four wins and one draw in their five games in the finals so far, with Belgium winning all five of their games. Neither side has been taken into extra time in the knockout phase.

Injuries – Neither team has any injury concerns ahead of this game.

Suspensions – France welcome back Blaise Matuidi for this game after he missed the quarterfinal win over Uruguay through suspension after picking up two yellow cards in the tournament.  Belgium will be without right wing back Thomas Meunier, a Paris St Germain player, who picked up a second yellow in the quarterfinal win over Brazil. This means that either Thomas Vermaelen or Yannick Carrasco will likely deputise with no obvious deputy for Meunier in the squad.

Frances Route to the Semis

  • V Australia – W 2-1 (Griezmann pen 58, Behich own goal 80)
  • V Peru – W 1-0 (Mbappe 34)
  • V Denmark – D 0-0
  • V Argentina – W 4-3 (Griezmann pen 13, Pavard 57, Mbappe 64,68)
  • V Uruguay – W 2-0 (Varane 40, Griezmann 61)

France World Cup Stats

  • Games Played – 5
  • Goals Scored – 9
  • Goals Conceded – 4
  • Top Goalscorers – Griezmann & Mbappe – 3 goals each

France Team and Tactical Analysis

The French saw Kylian Mbappe miss training the day before the game with Belgium, but the youngster should be fit to play in the game. The main decision for Didier Deschamps is whether Corentin Tolisso continues in the midfield role he played against Uruguay, or whether Blaise Matuidi returns to the team in place of him following serving a suspension. That will likely be the only change for France in terms of the teams or the tactics from the game with Uruguay.

Probable France XI – (4-2-3-1) – Lloris (GK), Pavard (Dr), Hernandez (Dl), Umtiti (Dc), Varane (Dc), Kante (Mc), Pogba (Mc), Matuidi (AMl), Mbappe (AMr), Griezmann (AMc), Giroud (Ac)

Belgium’s Route to the Semis

  • V Panama – W 3-0 (Mertens 47, Lukaku 69,75)
  • V Tunisia – W 5-2 (Hazard pen 6, 51, Lukaku 16,45, Batshuayi 90)
  • V England – W 1-0 (Januzaj 51)
  • V Japan – W 3-2 (Vertonghen 69, Fellaini 74, Chadli 90+4)
  • V Brazil – W 2-1 (Fernandinho own goal 13, De Bruyne 31)

Belgium World Cup Stats

  • Games Played – 5
  • Goals Scored – 14
  • Goals Conceded – 5
  • Top Goalscorers – Lukaku 4 goals, Hazard 2 goals

Belgium Team and Tactical Analysis

Roberto Martinez has a key decision to make as to who replaces Thomas Meunier in the right wing back role. The PSG defender’s influence down the right has been striking for Belgium at times and he will be sorely missed. Thomas Vermaelen could play there, or he could come into defence allowing Vertonghen to play there should they want a more defensive outlook, or Yannick Carrasco could come in if Martinez wants to play a more attacking team. Other than that, you will likely see the same team and tactics that has played in the majority of Belgium’s five wins in the World Cup so far.

Probable Belgium XI (3-4-2-1) – Courtois (Gk), Alderweireld (Dc), Kompany (Dc), Vertonghen (Dc), Vermaelen (DMr), Chadli (DMl), Fellaini (Mc), Witsel (Mc), De Bruyne (AMc), Hazard (AMc), Lukaku (Ac)

Our Tips for France v Belgium

  • Draw at 90 minutes – 23/10 with Bet365
  • Belgium to win in extra time – 11/1 with Bet365
  • Romelu Lukaku to score at any time – 7/5 with Bet365

Croatia v England

The Croatia v England clash from the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, also the venue for the final, will be shown live on ITV with a 7pm kick off time. The teams have met seven times in the past, England winning four times, Croatia winning twice (both of those wins in Euro 2008 qualifying) while the first game between the teams back in April 1996 finished in a 0-0 draw. The last two encounters finished in big England wins in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, England winning 4-1 in Croatia and then 5-1 at Wembley.

Injuries – England have slight concerns over Jamie Vardy and Jordan Henderson for this game, but Vardy should be fine to take his place on the bench and Henderson should start for England, though if he misses out Eric Dier will likely deputise. Croatia will likely be without left back Sime Vrsaljko who is out with a knee injury, but keeper Subasic and defender Lovren should both be fit for the game.

Suspensions – Neither side has any players suspended for this game.

Croatia’s Route to the Semis

  • V Nigeria – W 2-0 (Etebo own goal 32, Modric pen 71)
  • V Argentina – W 3-0 (Rebic 53, Modric 80, Rakitic 90+1)
  • V Iceland – W 2-1 (Badelj 53, Perisic 90)
  • V Denmark – D 1-1 (W 3-2 on pens)(Mandzukic 4)
  • V Russia – D 2-2 (W 4-3 on pens)(Kramaric 39, Vida 100)

Croatia World Cup Stats

  • Games Played – 5
  • Goals Scored – 10
  • Goals Conceded – 4
  • Top Goalscorers – Modric 2 goals

Croatia Team and Tactical Analysis

Sime Vrsaljko’s knee injury has likely ended his World Cup and leaves Croatia with a dilemma at right back, Vedran Corluka can play there, but he isn’t the quickest, so Domagoj Vida may move to right back with Corluka stepping into central defence alongside Dejan Lovren. Subasic should be fit to play though how well he has recovered from his hamstring injury remains to be seen.

Probable Croatia XI – (4-2-3-1) – Subasic (Gk), Vida (Dr), Strinic (Dl), Corluka (Dc), Lovren (Dc), Modric (Mc), Rakitic (Mc), Kramaric (AMc), Perisic (AMr), Rebic (AMl), Mandzukic (Ac)

England’s Route to the Semis

  • V Tunisia – W 2-1 (Kane 11, 90+1)
  • V Panama– W 6-1 (Stones 8,40, Kane pen 22, pen 45, 62, Lingard 36)
  • V Belgium – L 0-1
  • V Colombia – D 1-1 (won 4-3 on pens)(Kane pen 57)
  • V Sweden– W 2-0 (Maguire 30, Alli 58)

England World Cup Stats

  • Games Played – 5
  • Goals Scored – 11
  • Goals Conceded – 4
  • Top Goalscorers – Kane 6 goals, Stones 2

England’s Team and Tactical Analysis

With no suspensions, England’s major worry ahead of the game has been the fitness of Jordan Henderson and, to a lesser extent, Jamie Vardy. Henderson’s niggle however seems to be fine and the Liverpool man should start, though if he doesn’t then Eric Dier will likely deputise. Vardy should also be fit to start on the bench following a slight groin strain. Expect England to play the same 5-3-2 formation and the same team that started against Sweden.

Probable England XI (5-3-2 wingbacks) – Picford (Gk), Walker (Dc), Stones (Dc), Maguire (Dc), Trippier (DMr), Young (DMl), Henderson (DMc), Alli (Mc), Lingard (AMc), Sterling (Ac), Kane (Ac)

Our Tips for Croatia v England

  • England to win inside 90 minutes – 27/20 with Bet365
  • Both Teams to Score – Yes – 21/20 with Bet365
  • Harry Kane to score at any time – 5/4 with Bet365


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