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Previewing Day 22 of the FIFA World Cup

Part of our 2018 FIFA World Cup Hub

The first semifinal of the world’s biggest sporting event will kick-off on Tuesday at 2pm Eastern Time.

Belgium are looking to reach their first ever World Cup Final.


France take on Belgium for the semifinal of the stronger half of the bracket. In Brazil 2014, both of these teams were eliminated in the quarterfinals against eventual finalists. France lost 1-0 to Germany while Belgium lost 1-0 to Argentina. This will be Belgium’s 2nd ever World Cup semifinal, the first having been at Mexico 1986. France won the World Cup at home in 1998.

These two sides first met for a friendly tournament in 1904, which ended in a 3-3 draw. It was both national teams’ first ever match. They met in many more friendlies within the decade, Belgium winning most of them by several goals.

After countless more friendlies throughout the following decades, they finally met in their first real competitive fixture in the first round of France 1938, where the hosts won 3-1, only to be eliminated in the next round by eventual champions Italy.

They met again in qualifying for Sweden 1958, where France, Belgium, and Iceland fought for one World Cup spot. France won their home leg 6-3, while Belgium’s home leg ended scoreless. That allowed France to qualify for the World Cup, where they finished 3rd place.

They also met in qualifying for Euro 1968. Belgium won their home leg 2-1, while France’s home leg ended 1-1. However, France advanced on points, and Belgium were eliminated. France still failed to qualify for the Euro, losing 6-2 in a play-off to Yugoslavia.

They met again in qualifying for Euro 1976. Belgium won their home leg 2-1 again, and France’s home leg ended in a scoreless draw. France were eliminated, and Belgium advanced on points. Like France 8 years prior, Belgium still failed to qualify for the Euro by losing 7-1 in a play-off to the Dutch.

The two sides were placed in the same group for European qualification for Spain 1982. France won their home leg 3-2 and Belgium won their home leg 2-0. Both teams qualified, France finishing 4th, and Belgium finishing in the top 12 (10th according to statistics norms).

They would meet again in the Group Stage of Euro 1984, held in France, where the hosts won 5-0. Belgium were eliminated and France went on to win their first Euro.

They met once again in Mexico 1986, in the 3rd place play-off. The match ended 2-2, and went into extra time, where France won by scoring two more goals.

Their last meeting was a 2015 friendly in France, where the visiting Belgians won 4-3.

Despite facing each other in countless games, this will only be their 3rd World Cup encounter in 80 years. France will be considered very slight favourites.

France to Advance: 54.1%

Belgium to Advance: 45.9%


France: A

  • Will go up to A+ with a win by 2 or more goals
  • Will not go down even with a loss by 5 goals

Belgium: A

  • Will go up to A with a win by 3 or more goals
  • Will go down to A- with a loss by 4 or more goals
Mika Ryu

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