France won't be surprised by Belgium, says coach Deschamps

France's Samuel Umtiti second from left is congratulated by his teammates France's Antoine Griezmann Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba from left after scoring the opening goal during the semifinal match between France and Belgium at the 2018

Had a video of the meeting not surfaced recently, the moment might have been forgotten to all but Griezmann.

Somebody close to him said a couple of weeks ago that Henry was "enjoying it".

Before you enter your 2018 World Cup picks for France vs. Belgium, you have to see what European football expert David Sumpter has to say.

Tuesday's World Cup semifinal sees two of the strongest teams in the tournament face off but is still considered something of a surprise. Now he is an assistant to Belgium coach Roberto Martinez and the two of them will be plotting how to get the better of France tactically. Maybe one day he will be able to coach that France team.

"They are an exhaustive team, they know how to do everything".

France wonderkid Mbappe has impressed for Didier Deschamps' side so far, scoring three goals in five matches en route to the final four.

Belgium's Moussa Dembele makes a point to Thierry Henry at training. Matuidi is likely to replace Corentin Tolisso in the French side.

'"I would be proud to show [him] that he chose the wrong camp", Olivier Giroud, the closest active pursuer to Henry's French record of 51 worldwide goals, told reporters. If we approach this match with fear within us, we will bring ourselves down. "I think the Belgian team is the most exhaustive team in all aspects of the game during this tournament - they are strong everywhere", Lloris told reporters at a pre-match press conference. "He wants us to win". Kane carries England's hopes of glory as the Three Lions hunt their first World Cup crown since 1966, when they claimed the trophy on home soil.

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But now, the No. 3 of the Belgium staff happens to be Henry, 40, who is also a leading member of French soccer royalty, deserving of a chiseling on any French soccer Mount Rushmore. That was the last competitive match between the two countries but there have been eight global friendlies since.

Now comes a team led by Griezmann, 27. Not that their absence would matter to Mbappe whose incandescence has made the bookies revalue their stakes for France.

Though a very different player from the elegant Frenchman, the powerfully built Lukaku showed a touch of Henry in his intelligent dummy that allowed the ball to run through to Nacer Chadli to score Belgium's victor in the thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 win over Japan in the last 16.

Tuesday's game has an added twist of intrigue in that the French and Belgian players know each other so well.

With both sides showing their best from a counter-attacking position, they will each attempt to earn the right to play in that way.

With so many world-class players on display this World Cup semi-final should be an absolute classic - or it will end in a drab goalless draw with the winners reaching Sunday's final via a penalty shoot-out. Henry may have a confined role, but he is part of an admired coaching team, led by Martinez, who have been tactically dynamic in the tournament, sometimes in adversity, as when substitutions rescued a 2-0 deficit against Japan; sometimes very proactively, when some radical changes, in formation and deployment of key players, underpinned a famous victory, against Brazil in the last eight.

While it's true England hasn't faced any of the tournament's big hitters yet, it has displayed the kind of carefree attitude that always escaped its predecessors and the chance of competing for soccer's biggest prize for the first time since 1966 has generated a sense of euphoria England hasn't experienced in years. "He is there to learn", Giroud said.

"I am convinced that we will break down this wall". But we mustn't be jealous or anything about that. "It is not something that shocks me because it is a normal move at this stage in his career".

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