Tuesday sees the first of the World Cup semi-finals as France take on Belgium at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.
Each morning during the tournament we will bring you an overview of what is coming up…
Who’s playing today?
France v Belgium (semi-finals) – Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, 7pm
What’s the deal?
France and Belgium meet for the 74th time in all competitions but this time there is the small matter of a place in the World Cup final on Sunday against either Croatia or England.
There is an air of familiarity between the two teams as there will likely be a number of cases of Premier League club colleagues facing each other during the game in Saint Petersburg.
France captain Hugo Lloris has three Tottenham team-mates in the Belgium squad, and there is also the fact that Belgium have former France forward Thierry Henry working as an assistant coach under Roberto Martinez.
France coach Didier Deschamps, who was Henry’s captain in the French squad that won the 1998 World Cup, said: “Of course, it is a difficult situation, it really is not easy for him, and it does happen sometimes. You are part of the enemy team.
“He did know that from the time he was joining the management team and becoming an assistant to Martinez that that could happen. But on a personal level it is with great pleasure that I’m going to see him tomorrow.”
Deschamps added: “We know them, they know us. The peculiarity is there are many players on my team who have their own club team-mates facing them. So they know each other. “It’s an advantage on both sides.”
Charlie Nicholas’ prediction
England are on the cusp of a World Cup final – and Charlie Nicholas is back with his semi-final predictions
Ones to watch…
Kylian Mbappe: One of the stars of the tournament so far, Mbappe, who has three goals to his name, is the highest scoring teenager in a World Cup tournament since Pele scored six in 1958. Pele scored a hat-trick against France in the semi-final of that tournament and is the last teen to score in the last four of the competition. Mbappe will be looking to emulate the Brazil great in Saint Petersburg.
Eden Hazard: Belgium’s haul of 14 goals is the most by the semi-final stage of a World Cup tournament since Brazil in 2002 (15). Hazard has been a key figure in Belgium’s free-scoring approach. The Chelsea forward has been directly involved in 14 goals in his last 14 games for his country (8 goals, 6 assists).
Belgium won 4-3 the last time they met France, in a friendly in Paris in 2015.
The last two meetings of the neighbours ended in goalless draws, with Belgium last beating France in May 2002, when Marc Wilmots scored in stoppage time to seal a 2-1 win against the then world champions. But there was no shortage of goals three years ago as Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini gave Belgium – who were managed by Wilmots – a 2-0 half-time lead, before second-half strikes from Radja Nainggolan and Eden Hazard appeared to put the result beyond doubt.
Dynamo Moscow’s Mathieu Valbuena scored for the home side from the penalty spot on 53 minutes, just before Chelsea’s Hazard slotted home from a penalty moments later.
At 4-1 up and with only minutes remaining, the visitors looked to be in complete control but Nabil Fekir scored his first international goal in the dying minutes when he fired past Thibaut Courtois and Dimitri Payet added an injury-time third for the battling French. However, it was too little too late as Belgium held on for a rare away victory against their neighbours.
Stats of the day…
This is only Belgium’s second appearance in the World Cup semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Argentina in 1986.
France are making their sixth appearance in the World Cup semi-finals: they were eliminated from their first three (1958, 1982 and 1986) and have reached the final in the last two (1998 and 2006).
Belgium are unbeaten in their last 24 matches in all competitions, winning 19 and drawing five.
Excluding shootouts, France have lost just one of their last 13 games in the knockout rounds of the World Cup (W10 D2 L1).
Belgium have had nine different goalscorers in the 2018 World Cup (excluding own goals); only Italy in 2006 and France in 1982 (10 each) have had more in a single tournament.
France forward Antoine Griezmann has scored seven goals in his last six knockout stage matches in major tournaments (World Cup and EUROs).
Romelu Lukaku has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 13 games for Belgium in all competitions (17 goals, 3 assists).
What are England doing?
England will be training ahead of their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years before heading to Moscow ahead of Wednesday’s match with Croatia.
There will also be an official news conference at the Luzhniki Stadium where we will hear from manager Gareth Southgate and a player.