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France face Belgium on Tuesday in the first of the World Cup semi-finals.

In one of the less memorable games of Russian Federation 2018 at the venue of the final, Denmark and France played out a goalless draw - a result which saw both sides progress, with Les Bleus top of the group.

France sees this latest World Cup run, 20 years after its lone triumph in the tournament, as a déja vu. Mbappe once again impressed, but it was Barcelona central defender Umtiti who produced the decisive moment when he nodded home a corner from Griezmann after 51 minutes, with the help of a touch off Marouane Fellaini. "As a captain, I am happy to be part of this team".

The injection of Dries Mertens did up the tempo but France simply parked the bus and denied any Belgian attack; in fact they could have had two or three more near the close in numerous counter attacks as the reds pushed forward.

Belgium suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of France in St. Petersburg on Wednesday morning (AEST).

Didier Deschamps' side began the tournament as one of the favourites and unlike some other much-fancied teams - Germany, Spain and Brazil - they have lived up to it.

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It will be Croatia against heavily-favoured France in Sunday's final. "But, certainly, I'm hugely proud of what they've done". What more could we ask for? The victor today advances to Sunday's final against France .

"I think France won because they played better and showed more ambition to win in the second half but Belgium had a great first half but were wasteful in front of goal and that really cost them".

The first real opening came in the 16th minute when De Bruyne hooked the ball into the path of Hazard whose shot was just wide of Hugo Lloris's far post. With his partner at the back, Samuel Umtiti, still just 24, France has a central defensive pairing that should frustrate attackers long into the future. "I take my hat off to my players and my staff".

In scenes reminiscent of France's 1998 World Cup win, delirious crowds surged up the Champs-Elysees avenue and surrounded the Arc de Triomphe, waving flags and letting off flares.

It is the first time since 1998 that the nation of just over four million people have reached this stage of the competition, after they eliminated Russian Federation in a penalty shootout at the weekend. Les Bleus were defeated by Portugal in that final and had to settle for a runners-up medal, so they will be hoping to go one better on Sunday.

With Ngolo Kante marshalling the effort, France were on De Bruyne and Hazard like a flash, snuffing out the slightest opportunity for them to probe the French defence. "It was so painful two years ago we have to savor it".


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