Belgium star Hazard: I used to support France growing up

What the stats say Set-piece kings England a threat to everyone in final four

What the stats say Set-piece kings England a threat to everyone in final four

Belgium is the highest-ranked team left in the competition, sitting at number three in the world, with France at number seven.

Hazard grew up supporting France, having moved to Lille at the age of 14 after living in the French-speaking region of Belgium, but will square off against them on Tuesday night at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

With England or Croatia awaiting, the victor of this one will go in to Sunday's final as the favorites.

The precocious talent of the young Hazard did not pass unnoticed at Clairefontaine, the France Football Federation's elite forming school, and overtures were made to try and persuade him to represent his adopted country.

For France, who have reached this stage five times before, a win will take them to their third World Cup final - they lost to Germany in 2006 after a World Cup win at home eight years before that.

But their secret weapon could be on the sidelines in the shape of one of France´s greatest players of all time, Thierry Henry, who is now head coach Roberto Martinez´s assistant.

"They are a great team with a very good generation of players who have been playing together for several years", admitted France striker Olivier Giroud, who plays with Hazard and Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea. "But tomorrow, as a professional, he will be channeling all his passion into the Belgian team". How deep, or advanced, will Kevin de Bruyne play?

"Perhaps he will sing the Marseillaise (before the game), which I find normal", De Bruyne said. Of course, it is a hard situation, it really is not easy for him.

And that is key because in Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, Belgium have two more players who can make the difference at any time and against any team.

The two sides last faced each other in 2015, when Belgium had edged out France in a 4-3 win.

France displayed different qualities in overcoming Uruguay in their quarter-final, winning 2-0 in an attritional contest which lacked the spark of the Argentina victory but was equally as impressive in its control and game management.

France are favourites due to their mix of youth and experience allied to tournament nous after they reached the Euro 2016 final.

The last time Belgium reached a World Cup semi-final, back in 1986, only Vincent Kompany of their current 23-man squad was born.

Both teams know they would be strong favorites to finish the job in Russian Federation against either England or Croatia in the final, meaning it could be now or never for the pair to fulfil their undoubted promise.

"Of course I would prefer it if he were with us and he were giving me his advice, but we mustn't be jealous", said Giroud. We need to defend spaces more than the player himself.

England's midfielder Jordan Henderson has recovered from his injury against Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final and should be fit to play Croatia in the semis. "For him tomorrow it could be a bit hard, but he works for Belgium now, he wants us to win".

Captain Harry Kane is leading England´s charge with six goals so far, putting him top in the race for the Golden Boot.

To do so, though, he must prevent France's own talented crop of Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann from following in Zidane's footsteps in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

France, world champions in 1998, are slight favourites to go through according to most bookmakers, but Belgium tend to step up their game against these particular European rivals, if history is anything to go by.

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