European powerhouses France and Belgium go head-to-head in the first semi-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Saint Petersburg Stadium and the lineups for the Tuesday night clash have been revealed.
The big news for Les Blues is that Blaise Matuidi returns to the starting XI after missing the quarter-final due to a yellow card accumulation.
Corentin Tolisso misses out as a result, with Didier Deschamps opting to go with his standard 4-2-3-1 formation:
— French Team (@FrenchTeam) July 10, 2018
Skipper Hugo Lloris starts in goal, behind a back-four of Lucas Hernandez, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti and Benjamin Pavard.
Paul Pogba partners N’Golo Kante in the central midfield pivot, while Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Matuidi feature just behind central striker Olivier Giroud.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has made a number of changes to the side that beat Brazil 2-1 in the quarters.
With Thomas Meunier suspended after getting a caution against the Samba Boys, Nacer Chadli comes in but it’s the inclusion of Mousa Dembele that has raised eyebrows.
Line-up ! ⚽️
🆚 @equipedefrance 🇫🇷
From where do you support us ? 😊
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) July 10, 2018
Thibaut Courtois starts between the sticks, with Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld lining up in a formidable three-man defence in front of him.
Dembele, Alex Witsel, Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli make up the four-man midfield while Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard flank Romelu Lukaku up top.
Dembele so far has made just one start at the World Cup and that was when Martinez fielded a second-string side against England in the final Group G game.
Will the Tottenham Hotspur man play like Fernandinho did for Brazil or will he repay his manager’s faith?
We will find out in less than an hour’s time when the tie kicks off at 23.30 IST.