Key match facts ahead of those 2018 World Cup semi-final ties
If they are to book their spot in Sunday’s World Cup final, Belgium’s Golden Generation will need to oust 1998 winners’ France, while Croatia stand in the way of England and a first appearance in the final since 1966. Our goal projections indicate that both games are likely to be tight affairs so don’t rule out the possibility of either tie being decided by a striker that is determined to end his own personal goal drought in Russia.
France vs Belgium
Projected goals 1.32 / 1.15
Clean sheet percentages 32% / 27%
To Qualify 54% / 46%
Suspended – Thomas Meunier
Fantasy player to watch – Olivier Giroud
Didier Deschamps continues to keep faith with Olivier Giroud, which must come as a welcome surprise for a player that spends so much of the domestic season on the substitutes’ bench. The Frenchman’s impact as a super-sub is the stuff of legend, with only one player, Jermain Defoe, now having scored more times from the bench in the Premier League era.
Giroud is yet to get off the mark in Russia but that won’t prevent Deschamps from naming him in his starting line-up against Belgium.
Croatia vs England
Projected goals 0.95 / 1.22
Clean sheet percentages 30% / 39%
To Qualify 42% / 58%
Fantasy player to watch – Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling continues to divide opinion among pundits and England fans alike but the Three Lions have roared into the semi-finals, with the Manchester City forward certainly playing his part. His goal-scoring record for England may be abysmal but his effort and commitment are there for all to see and Croatia will not relish facing him.
Can Giroud and Sterling make it a France vs England final or will both players be off target again, leaving the door open for their respective opponents to claim a spot in Sunday’s showpiece event?