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Nations League preview: Belgium, France set for semi-final showdown

Posted By : Vincent Ashitey

Belgium play France tonight in the UEFA Nations League semi-final, 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.

France’s struggles continued in the latest round of World Cup qualifiers as Didier Deschamps’ side dropped points to Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Belgium cruised to big wins over Estonia, Belarus and the Czech Republic.

Here’s all the information you need to know before the match tonight.

When is Belgium vs France?

The match will kick off at 6:45 pm on Thursday, October 7 and will be played at the Juventus Stadium in Turin.

 

What is the team news?

Belgium are without attackers Dries Mertens and Jeremy Doku and defender Thomas Vermaelen from their Euro 2020 squad but the rest of the old guard returns for manager Roberto Martinez. Eden Hazard has yet to play 90 minutes this season for Real Madrid but has featured in their last five matches as he looks to build up his fitness.

France will be without N’Golo Kante due to the Chelsea midfielder’s positive Covid-19 test, and Deschamps has three fresh faces in Aurelien Tchouameni, Jordan Veretout and former Arsenal man Matteo Guendouzi as possible replacements to start alongside Paul Pogba, as well as Adrien Rabiot. Karim Benzema remains in the squad and has been in brilliant goalscoring form this season for Real Madrid. Corentin Tolisso and Thomas Lemar have not been included.

Possible line-ups

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Castagne, Witsel, Tielemans, Carrasco; De Bruyne, E. Hazard; Lukaku

France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, L. Hernandez; Rabiot, Pogba, Tchouameni; Griezmann, Benzema, Mbappe

 

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