Martinez: France's Henry is missing ingredient for Belgium

27-year-old looks like a man on a mission to bring the WC trophy for the first time in the country’s history

So France is off to a third World Cup final in the last six tournaments after beating Belgium 1-0 Tuesday on Samuel Umtiti's second-half header in St. Petersburg.

France will now advance to Sunday's World Cup final where they will face the victor of Wednesday's semifinal match between England and Croatia.

France President Emmanuel Macron was on hand for the game in St Petersburg and came down to the dressing room to celebrate with the players and staff. Les Bleus topped Group C without really convincing, but knockout-stage wins over Argentina and Uruguay have enhanced their credentials as serious contenders.

There's a tendency to view Didier Deschamps as an overly conservative coach, one who keeps his immensely talented players reined in too much.

Usually tournament awards are given to the players who are the most influential attackers or the leading goal scorer-and that's why the candidates we have been hearing until this point are Luka Modric, Eden Hazard and Harry Kane.

"This time is much higher", he said, a reference to national teams and a World Cup.

"I'm not saying that I'm not proud of what we did all together 20 years ago". After a thrilling 3-2 win over Japan during the Round of 16, Belgium had their best game of the tournament during the quarter-finals, where they dispatched Brazil to the tune of a 2-1 win where Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku looked virtually unstoppable. I play against teams that play so defensively 90% of the time.

Meanwhile, Martinez, who, it should be noted, is on the same staff with Henry, said that when he signed up to succeed Marc Wilmots after Belgium's quarterfinal clunk of Euro 2016, his staff of 12 years lacked only what Henry has brought.

Henry, World Cup victor in 1998 with Les Bleus, is assistant coach to Roberto Martinez, manager of Belgium, beaten 1-0 in the semifinals this morning.

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"It's me that scored", Umtiti said, "but we all delivered a big game". The strategy worked, and De Bruyne scored his first goal in Russian Federation.

Preview: France look to return to the final of the World Cup for the first time since 2006, while Belgium look to confirm the promise of their "golden generation" and reach the final for the first time.

Yet while Hazard - Belgium's captain - faded after a strong opening 30 minutes, Mbappe was a constant threat.

Former French football legend Thierry Henry must have had mixed emotions as the nation of his birth reached the World Cup final and the country he helps coach was eliminated.

Umtiti, and particularly Raphael Varane, were excellent at the back for France.

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.

Giroud then had another great chance as Mbappe cushioned a long ball across the area, only for the striker to fluff his shot under pressure from Alderweireld.

France came through their quarter-final unscathed, and Deschamps has his entire squad to choose from, while Belgium are only slightly worse off.

"So two teams packed with stars, going head-to-head for a place in the World Cup final". The French earned the chance and executed it perfectly, with Umtiti outjumping Marouane Fellaini to make the connection on the near-post header.

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