France and Belgium reached the FIFA World Cup semi finals after outsting Uruguay and Brazil on Friday, and would meet next Tuesday.
France beat Uruguay 2-0, and the 1998 World Cup champion looked confident in advancing to another stage.
The French entered the match and began controlling tempo of the game and were in possession of the ball almost the entire clash.
The French right wingers have been active, firing one cross ball after the other but the Uruguay defense was defiance.
But one of the balls bore fruit. Antoine Griezmann’s cross in the 40th minute was converted by Raphael Varane to put France in the lead.
Uruguay were not discouraged but kept pressing and had a chance at the goal but was saved by Hugo Lloris at 43rd minute, preventing what could have been an equalizer.
Uruguay entered the second half with apparent more determination to level the score sheet.
But it was Griezmann again. The Atletico Madrid’s forward doubled the lead in the 61st minute. He was offered a space and time at the edge of the box and fired a ball that deflected off Fernando Muslera’s hands to go in.
France’s Didier Deschamps was pleased with a young Les Bleus team while Uruguay’s managers could not ask more from his players as the team reaches the end of their World Cup journey in Russia.
Uruguay’s Oscar Tabarez said “we lack what any team would lack losing a game, we didn’t play as good as our rivals, so that’s why we lost.” Tabarez went to mention his players’ efforts during the match and the previous games to reach the quarterfinals as the players “gave everything.” On the match, Tabarez explained how his team came out with a massive effort in the first 20 minutes but failed to capitalise, and that his team was not able to made use of the problems of the French team as they began controlling the game. They also missed their chance early on in the second half to level the score,” and that has a huge impact on the match like the quarter final.
Tabarez was confident in his players’ efforts and told them “they can be very proud” and to keep their heads high, “only those that don’t do anything, don’t make mistakes.” Deschamps said “I think we deserved the result, we played against a beautiful Uruguayan side, but we were better than they were today,” and the teams will keep on getting tougher as his team advances on in the tournament.
Deschamps also added his young team has been improving after every game, but today was not perfect either, and they were able to score two goals against a Uruguayan side that does not conceive many especially from set pieces.
“I like to reach my goals like everybody else, but I don’t look at this from a personal perspective. My pride is related to the entire group, and here I want to mention my technical staff,” who have been by his side the whole time as a manager for the French team, he added.
Meanwhile, Belgium thrashed Brazil 2-1 in a thrilling clash that saw the South Americans almost equalizing the score in last minute.
The match started with both teams trying to find an opening to score and Belgium took the lead in the 13th minute.
Defender Vicent Kompany’s header of a corner kick was deflected by Fernandinho who scored an own goal, putting the Belgians ahead.
Belgium have been relentless in their attacks, and Kevin De Bruyne, named Man of the Match, drilled the ball into the far corner of the Brazilian goalkeeper in 31st minute to double the lead and intensify suffering of the South Americans.
Brazil came into the second half with further determination to narrow the gap, and had 14 shots on the goal compared to Belgium’s one.
The Brazilians were pressing heavily and the ball was literally in the Belgian side of the pitch.
Brazil’s attempts were finally fruitful. Coutinho sent a cross into the area and Renato Agusuto’s header found the nets of Thibaut Courtois in 76th minute.
It was Courtois who saved a volley from Neymar in the final minute of the match that prevented what could have been a dramatic equalizer.
Despite different emotions, both managers faced the press with great appreciations towards their players’ efforts and commitment to technical and tactical endeavors.
Belgium’s Roberto Martinez believed he was playing against the best team in the tournament today, and to face them he needed both tactics and heart, and that recipe is what got them the game.
“You cannot hope for a good day against Brazil, there’s a psychological barrier – the yellow tops, the five world titles and everything that goes with that,” said Martinez who led his team bravely with a big gamble to change tactics at this stage in the World Cup.
Martinez emphzised on his players’ ability and belief to execute these tactics on the pitch, with a lot of threats in front of several Brazilian stars, but players like Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were able to do so bravely setting up a period during the match when the opponent did not know how to coup with the game.
There were a number of aspects that made Martinez very proud, and first it starts with the players concentration and belief they can beat Brazil. “When the players walked in the tunnel they had the look in their eyes that they believed in each other.” The second was the reaction of the players after they conceded the goal, and in that big moment Martinez said, “at that point we showed experience, calmness and a real togetherness.” The mentality of the Belgium players tremendously pleased Martinez to say, “I’m the proudest man on earth now because I gave the players a very tough tactical assignment and the way they believed until the last second was incredible.” Brazil’s Tite came to the post-match press conference with a saddened heart sympathizing with the Brazilian fans as he mentions that it could be the 30 years of experience that brought him out in front of the press.
Tite believed that it would be unfair to analyze each player alone and rather analyzing the match. “I thought it was a great match and we had a lot of it, with plenty of possession and a lot of opportunities.” Belgium was the team that managed to translate their efforts into goals, as the more efficient team on the pitch, believed Tite.
“We had two thirds of the game wrapped around our fingers,” said Tite emphasizing the increadible technical qualities of his players during the match. Footbal does have many random aspects to it, and Tite refused to talk about luck, he believed it is a way to put down somebody’s skills, and Belgium today managed to finish with a victory.
Source: Kuwait News Agency