The first World Cup finalist is pretty much the one everyone expected. France have qualified for the title match in Moscow thanks to a 1-0 win over Belgium in Tuesday’s semi-final. The French once again did not play as well as they could, but they found a way to win anyway thanks to Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti.
Most people expected France to be the best team on the pitch thanks to their superior talent, but that was definitely not the case at the start of this one. Belgium came in with a bold formation and a lot of flow in their passing, creating plenty of dangerous chances with their movement. Eden Hazard was a beast, taking players on time and time again and having two very good shots going just wide.
Belgium’s best chance came from a corner that bounced in the box and fell to Toby Alderweireld, who fired a beautiful shot into the top corner that Hugo Lloris had no business stopping. But the French keeper somehow pulled off a miraculous save, and that seemed to wake up his team.
France improved towards the end of the half, with Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann finally seeing more of the ball and looking very dangerous on the counter. Olivier Giroud had a few shots and headers go wide, and France looked really good as we reached halftime. The second half promised fireworks.
Belgium continued to be in control as we started the final period, but France broke their hearts when Umtiti headed home a Griezmann corner to give Les Bleus the lead. Once they scored France had complete control of the game and Mbappé began to destroy the Belgian defense by himself, with some crazy skill moves and runs that put Giroud in position to score at least twice, but he couldn’t.
Since they couldn’t find a second goal, France reverted back to a more defensive shape and hoped to kill the game on the counter while Belgium had all of the possession trying to find an equalizer. The Belgians let the desperation get the best of them, and Les Bleus managed to run out the clock and book their place in the final.
France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernández; Pogba, Kanté, Matuidi (Tolisso); Mbappé, Giroud (Nzonzi), Griezmann
Goal: Umtiti (51’)
Belgium: Courtois; Chadli (Batshuayi), Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Dembélé (Mertens); De Bruyne, Fellaini (Carrasco), Hazard; Lukaku