His header decided an even match. Partidazo without prize of Hazard and star moments of Griezmann and Mbappé. Belgium fought to the end.
In a semifinal resolved to the sprint, a header from Umtiti separated France from Belgium. The strength of the Deschamps team, who withstood the blows of Hazard, was more important in the balance, and he made his fortune later with his advantage. The Belgian of Chelsea leaves this World without the jackpot but with an extraordinary poster. As the tournament has advanced, it has become a thunderclap. He will try to console himself on Saturday, because Sunday is reserved for the third final of France in a World Cup. The France of Griezmann, Mbappé and the decathletes who accompany them.
It was what was expected, a great game, watered with champagne football, between two teams trained for space but good also in the positional game that came here on one side of the box where wildlife abounded. And with a loose duende, Eden Hazard, prodigy of the break and domination of the scene in the midst of that fabulous collection of afrocentrocampistas. Zidane was not deceived by the eye when he recommended it, without success, in Madrid.
Down Meunier responded Roberto Martinez with a studied asymmetry: three defenders to attack and four to defend, with the entire right wing assigned to Chadli, Witsel and Dembelé as frontier and Fellaini, a footballer who is not his coach is hard to find virtues, ahead. Opposite, a conventional France, with all the cubicaje in its three midfielders, Mbappé and Griezmann zascandileando between lines and Giroud in tip. It is very French custom not to demand goals from your goalscorer. Benzema lives there and Giroud, who with his big game on his back is the ink of the squid, distracts him and Mbappé and Griezmann escape.
Lloris and Courtois
The match went and came. At times the engine of Kanté and Pogba was imposed, at times the lace work of Hazard on the left. But almost everything, the one and the other, ended up in the area. There was chess and shooting almost equally. And two huge goalies. Lloris took a great half-turn of the Alderweireld after a corner and touching the rest Courtois was entrusted to his right foot in a one-on-one with Pavard, whom Mbappé had left at the gates of paradise.
It was good for France to take down Griezmann and Mbappé, who expect regularity to come as teenagers leave, although it was clearly better during the match until they finished as the most authoritative player in the fight. Belgium hardly found De Bruyne, one of his armed arms, but he pushed with his midfielders.
And in full balance Umtiti scored, in a header to the near post at the center of Griezmann badly defended by Fellaini. The goal gave France the advantage and the space, nourishing its game. Roberto Martinez maneuvered immediately. He removed Dembele, delayed De Bruyne and put Mertens, another loaded with gunpowder. As that did not work, he wanted to win the other flank with Carrasco in front of France’s B-side: a team with a robust spine and solidarity effort in the protection of Lloris, starting with Griezmann. The goal saved a distant whiplash of Witsel, last shot of a great Belgium, which may have gone a unrepeatable moment. He walked close, but in solvency he took better note France.