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World Cup 2018 4 things we learnt from France 1-0 win over Belgium

A Samuel Umtiti header in the 51st minute was all France needed to get the crucial semi-final win.

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Antoine Griezmann, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba play World Cup 2018: 4 things we learnt from France 1-0 win over Belgium (AP)

A gritty France pipped Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday, July 11 to reach the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

A Samuel Umtiti header in the 51st minute was all France needed to get the crucial semi-final win.

These are four things we learnt from the game.

France Vs Belgium

1. Defence the key for France

Samuel Umtiti play France defence was key for them again ( AP)
 

If France was expected to be in the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it was their attacking trio of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe that was expected to wave the magic wands.

But it’s their defence that have been the key for them as they aim to win their second World Cup title.

Since their 4-3 win over Argentina in the second round, France are yet to concede a goal in the knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup.

They have conceded just four goals at the 2018 World Cup and have played more games than everyone.

Apart from stopping oppositions from scoring, France defenders have also come with the goals.  It was right-back Benjamin Pavard that scored a stunning goal against Argentina to spark a comeback.

Centre back Raphael Varane scored in their 2-0 win over Uruguay in the quarter-finals while Umtiti netted the only goal in their semi-final win over Belgium.

The defensive partnership of Varene and Umtiti has also been very import while the presence of 22-year-old converted centre-backs Theo Hernandez and Pavard instead of Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibe have been justified.

2. No-goal Giroud very important

Olivier Giroud play Olivier Giroud failed to score in again but he is still doing his job (AFP/Getty Images)
 

From the surface, Olivier Giroud might be having a poor World Cup campaign. The game against Belgium was his five consecutive starts for France at the 2018 World Cup and he is yet to find the back of the net.

For a striker that is not impressive but for Giroud’s his strength and importance lie somewhere else.

Against Belgium he was impressive again for what he brings to Didier Deschamps team, setting up and bringing others into play.

Deschamp has insisted that Giroud is important to his plans despite his lack of goals. Forget the goals, he has helped his team to the final of the World Cup and that is more important.

3. Disciplined France

Benjamin Pavard, Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba play France were discipline to contain a talented Belgium side (Squawka)
 

France had to be very disciplined to contain Belgium who were in buoyant mood after their win over Brazil in the quarter-final.

Deschamp set up his side to frustrate the Belgians, forfeiting possession for defensive solidity. Pogba was also strict, playing without his usual flashiness and maintaining a position not too far from N’golo Kante in midfield.

At the end, France had 39% possession to Belgium’s 61% and Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois wasn't impressed at all and declared the result "a shame for football".

France don’t care, they are in the final.

4. Pedigree matters

Samuel Umtiti and Eden Hazard play More illustrious France were more settled in the game more than Belgium (AFP)
 

Before any game of this magnitude, the word ‘pedigree’ is often thrown around as one of the deciding factors.

Many though,, don’t see the point, how does the history of a country in a competition like the World Cup affect the performance of the day?

In the Tuesday semi-final game, pedigree came into play albeit psychologically. While France were just doing enough to get the result, there was a feeling that Belgian didn’t push hard enough.

They seem content with how far they have come at the World Cup, while France had one thing in mind, the final.

Getting to the final was nothing new for the French, so it didn’t overwhelm them, they just focused on the task and did their job.

Belgium on the hand seemed overwhelmed with getting to their first World Cup final ever.

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