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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

World Cup 2018 semi-finals guide and predictions: De Bruyne and Belgium defeat France as England beat Croatia

A look at the two semi-final ties with a showdown between Belgium and England for the World Cup on June 15 the predicted outcome

There will be more celebrations on Tuesday for Kevin De Bruyne and Belgium according to The National's predictions. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
There will be more celebrations on Tuesday for Kevin De Bruyne and Belgium according to The National's predictions. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Then there were four.

After 60 games we are down to just France, Belgium, England and Croatia remaining who can the win the 21st staging of the World Cup.

Here is a look at the semi-finals and what to watch out for.

As with the previous knockout rounds, if a game finishes level after 90 minutes it will go to extra time for another 30 minutes. If there is no winner after 120 minutes the tie is decided on penalties.

Tuesday July 10

France v Belgium, 10pm

How they got there France made smooth work of beating Uruguay 2-0 in their quarter-final, with Raphael Varane and Antonie Griezmann the goalscorers.

It was arguably France's most impressive display at the World Cup. Defensively sound while causing one of the best organised sides in the tournament real problems.

Belgium are the only side to have won every game they have played in Russia on their way to the semi-finals.

They were terrific in getting a two-goal lead against Brazil and then put in a mature second half display to hold off the fightback from their South American opponents.

Previous meetings If history is anything to go by then there should be goals in this. France won 4-2 when the teams met in the group stages in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

The last time the sides met, in a friendly in June 2015, ended 4-3 to Belgium with Marouane Fellaini scoring twice.

Prediction France have improved after a slow start in the group stages where they made hard work of Australia and Peru.

Belgium have impressed against everyone they have played, and even when they did slip, going two down to Japan in the second round, they had the goal power to fight back and triumph.

These are two exciting European sides with great futures ahead of them. At this stage the goal power of Belgium, they have scored 14 goals in five games, gives them the edge and they reach their first World Cup final with a 2-1 win over the French.

Roberto Martinez celebrates Belgium;s quarter-final win over Brazil. Catherine Ivill / Getty Images
Roberto Martinez celebrates Belgium;s quarter-final win over Brazil. Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Wednesday July 11

Croatia v England, 10pm

How they got there Croatia after winning Group D with a 100 per cent record have had to grit their way through the knockout stages with penalty shoot-out wins over Denmark and hosts Russia.

England also required spot-kicks to get past Colombia before they made comfortable work of Sweden in the quarter-finals as Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored in a a 2-0 triumph.

Previous meetings England won their only previous clash at a major tournament, at Euro 2004, with a 4-2 triumph where Wayne Rooney scored twice.

Croatia did get some revenge for that by ensuring England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 in November 2007 with a 3-2 win at Wembley Stadium.

Prediction A very tough one to call. Both sides have shown their ability to grind out results when not at their best and this will be a very tense evening in Moscow.

Croatia have been pushed to the brink twice in penalties, and England may well be fresher due to getting their business done in the 90 minutes against Sweden.

A narrow 1-0 win for England, probably from another set-piece, puts Gareth Southgate's men in the final.

England trio Harry Kane, Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire are looking to guide their side to only their second World Cup final. Getty Images
England trio Harry Kane, Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire are looking to guide their side to only their second World Cup final. Getty Images

Wallchart