France vs Belgium - Hugo Lloris expecting tough test against Belgium



Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2018 by PA

France vs Belgium - Hugo Lloris expecting tough test against Belgium

Captain Hugo Lloris is confident France will be ready for the challenge of taking on a Belgium outfit who “know how to do everything” in Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final.

The Belgians, often said to currently have a ‘golden generation’ of players, have looked impressive during their run at the tournament, which included a 2-1 victory over Brazil in the last eight.

They have sealed a place in the semis for only the second time, and the first since 1986.

And Lloris said at a pre-match press conference streamed on FIFA’s official website: “They are an exhaustive team, they know how to do everything.

“I think the Belgian team is the most exhaustive team in all aspects of the game during this tournament – they are strong everywhere. They have everything they need to be a great team and and they are a great team.

“It is a fantastic generation and in order to beat them we will have to play a great match.

“We know there are going to be difficult moments and we’ll have to be ready to suffer.

“But we will be ready because we have an extremely good state of mind and it is the semi-finals in the World Cup. It is an opportunity in our careers and we have to grab it with both hands.

The 31-year-old goalkeeper has three Tottenham team-mates in the Belgium squad and there will likely be a number of cases of Premier League club colleagues facing each other during Tuesday’s game in St Petersburg.

France boss Didier Deschamps said: “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.”

In terms of familiarity, there is also the fact Belgium have former France forward Thierry Henry working as an assistant coach under Roberto Martinez.

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 the personal front it is with great pleasure that I’m going to see him tomorrow.”

Goalkeeper Lloris, another former France team-mate of Henry’s, said: “It is true that it is a little bit peculiar to see him with the Belgian team but that is his career and that is how he is learning his future career.

“I think his heart will be split tomorrow because before anything he remains French. We know him, he has a lot of passion inside him for football and he will be with the Belgians and give everything to help his team.”

While it was reported by L’Equipe that Kylian Mbappe, who scored a brace in France’s 4-3 last-16 win against Uruguay, did not participate in training on Monday, Deschamps said he expects to have a full squad to choose from.

“Nobody is out even though we rested four of our players today – that was a precautionary measure,” he said. “Everyone should be operational for tomorrow.”

Martinez has admitted it took him two years to give Belgium’s bunch of individual superstars the belief that they can go on and win their first World Cup together.

Martinez said: “Now I think a lot of questions have been answered in saying that this is a team, not a group of individuals.

“They made a commitment of trying to help each other become a high-performance squad and to come together to be as good as we can at international level has been a two-year process.

“It’s a group of people who want to share the vision of making Belgian football proud and they’ve done that.”

Martinez believes Belgium’s success has been due to their adaptability, after he resisted criticism to play Kevin De Bruyne in a deep-lying midfield role for the group games, before switching to devastating effect against Brazil.

“The quality in this group is their incredible capacity to change things if the game needs it,” added Martinez.

“That execution against Brazil gives you the biggest satisfaction as an international coach. At this level that kind of intelligence and adaptability is
essential.”

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