Esports into Asian games; may the Olympics be next?

Esports into Asian games; may the Olympics be next?

 

  • during this Sunday Aug. 26, 2018 image, the China eSports team play Taiwan within the eSports exhibition on the 18th Asian video games enviornment of Valor, Britama area, Jakarta. Esports is debuting as an exhibition game in the on-going Asian games and is centered for full inclusion in 4 years at the games in Hangzhou, China. Dhemas Reviyanto,INASGOC via AP much less in this Sunday Aug. 26, 2018 photo, the China eSports team play Taiwan in the eSports exhibition on the 18th Asian video games arena of Valor, Britama area, Jakarta. Esports is debuting as an exhibition game in the … more Dhemas Reviyanto, AP
  • Dhemas Reviyanto, APin this Sunday Aug. 26, 2018 photo, the China eSports group play Taiwan in the eSports exhibition on the 18th Asian video games area of Valor, Britama area, Jakarta. Esports is debuting as an exhibition game within the on-going Asian video games and is targeted for full inclusion in four years at the video games in Hangzhou, China. Dhemas Reviyanto,INASGOC by way of AP less during this Sunday Aug. 26, 2018 image, the China eSports crew play Taiwan in the eSports exhibition on the 18th Asian video games arena of Valor, Britama area, Jakarta. Esports is debuting as an exhibition activity in the … more Dhemas Reviyanto, AP

    Esports into Asian video games; might the Olympics be subsequent?

    JAKARTA, Indonesia AP — Esports is debuting as an exhibition game at the Asian games and is focused for full inclusion in four years at the video games in Hangzhou, China.

    Kenneth Fok, president of the Asian digital sports Federation, talked about the long-time period purpose is getting esports into the Olympics.

    This looks a possibility, given that the international Olympic Committee held a forum on esports just last month at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0ed,Our agenda is to push for the Olympic agenda,” Fok said on the opening of esports at the Asian video games. “this is our work. And this is our ardour, here’s what drives us. When? I have no idea. When, I do not need to predict.”

    Fok described the inclusion of esports as an exhibition within the Asian video games as,an excellent first step” and spoke of the goal is to.”occupy down boundaries, little by little.”

    Fok has strong Olympic connections. His father, Timothy, turned into an IOC member from Hong Kong from 2001 except 2016 and he is still an honorary member.

    gamers do not argue they are athletes, but say they share the identical pressure to compete. however this might even be referred to about bridge avid gamers — a video game additionally being contested on the Asian games — or chess, or competitive dancing.

    but these pastimes cannot generate an awful lot profits — now not like esports.

    4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0ed.”I think esports shares the equal spirit with ordinary activities,” talked about Wang Tianlong of China, talking via a translator, after taking gold in area of Valor. “No count if we are esports gamers or athletes, we all combat to win for our country.”

    Khien Vuong Trung, a bronze medalist from Vietnam in area of Valor, noted he met initial skepticism.

    4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0ed,firstly, my parents did not desire me to be a professional esports athlete,” he observed. “however is growing to be in my country. And my fogeys additionally noticed my love for it. so that they begun to be supportive.”

    moreover enviornment of Valor, five other video games are being performed: conflict Royale, League of Legends, StarCraft II, Hearthstone, and PES 2018.

    Eighteen international locations are competing led via South Korea, the place the gaming craze took off first. also included are: Indonesia, Laos, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Thailand, India, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, and Iran.

    IOC President Thomas Bach, speakme closing month at an IOC-backed discussion board, talked about there’s a growing to be connection between the Olympics and esports. He stopped wanting asserting when — of despite the fact that — esports may make the Olympics. but he became enthusiastic about the communicate.

    4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0ed.”We think the equal passion for your pastime as you believe the passion for our endeavor,” Bach advised skilled gamer Jake Lyon. Bach talked about on the discussion board that the Olympics and esports shared as a minimum two values — “passion and excellence.”

    Bach promised to explore approaches the two communities can work collectively.

    4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0ed.”On this strong ground we are able to construct a partnership,” he referred to.

    Esports offers a natural attraction for the IOC, which is trying to find a younger viewers and revenue.

    Mike Morhaime, the CEO of Blizzard leisure, an American video video games developer, told Bach on the discussion board that esports has 2 billion americans global taking part in digital video games, with 380 million watching esports. He observed the viewer numbers could grow to about 600 million in two years, touching talents sponsors, game enthusiasts, expert leagues, and video game developers.

    The IOC has already included skateboarding, surfing and sports mountain climbing into the agenda for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, hoping to draw a younger fan unsuitable.

    4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0ed,anyone who enjoys observing ordinary activities likely knows that the things that you simply grow up with are things that you just are interested in right through your entire existence,” Morhaime spoke of.

    Nicolo Laurent, the CEO of rebel video games, noted esports had 14 leagues and a few elite gamers had been making thousands and thousands of bucks.

    Morhaime said the demographic of esports was.”20 to 40 years younger than natural activities.”

    4da1a46ec20cf93ee5c846a51e04f0ed.”we’re at an inflection point in esports,” Morhaime stated. “folks who hadn’t definitely been paying consideration to the esports phenomenon are starting to in reality have an interest.”

    count the Asian video games and the Olympics among them.

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    Zhu Pei contributed to this file.

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    Stephen Wade on

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Asian games 2018: Dharun Ayyasamy wins Silver medal in guys’s 400m Hurdles, units new countrywide record

Asian games 2018: Dharun Ayyasamy wins Silver medal in guys’s 400m Hurdles, units new countrywide record

Dharun AyyasamyWhat’s the myth?

Indian Athletics’ elegant run in the competition persevered, as Dharun Ayyasamy bagged the Silver medal. Ayyasamy accomplished with a timing of 48.ninety six seconds, to create a brand new national record as well.

in the event you didn’t recognize…

The 2018 Asian video games are presently underway in Indonesia. Returning to the nation after a Fifty-six-yr absence, the video games are being co-hosted by way of Jakarta and Palembang. here’s the first time in the heritage of Asiad, that two cities have been given the joint custody of the games.

India has carried out well enough, over the route of nine days, on the eighteenth Asian video games. With Thirty-Seven medals, India stands Ninth in the Medal Tally.

The heart of the depend

India’s Thirty-seven medals had been elevated to thirty-eight, as Dharun Ayyasamy won the Silver in guys’s 400m Hurdles. https://www.indo7poker.com/ Ayyasamy’s medal persisted Indian Athletics’ remarkable run at the video games, with the sport now contributing to five medals.

  • during this Sunday Aug. 26, 2018 image, the China eSports team play Taiwan within the eSports exhibition on the 18th Asian video games enviornment of Valor, Britama area, Jakarta. Esports is debuting as an exhibition game in the on-going Asian games and is centered for full inclusion in 4 years at the games in Hangzhou, China. Dhemas Reviyanto,INASGOC via AP much less in this Sunday Aug. 26, 2018 photo, the China eSports team play Taiwan in the eSports exhibition on the 18th Asian video games arena of Valor, Britama area, Jakarta. Esports is debuting as an exhibition game in the … more Dhemas Reviyanto, AP
  • Dhemas Reviyanto, AP

 

before Ayysasamy’s listing-breaking run, although, a number of athletes ensured a constant flow of medals.

Tajinderpal Singh Toor all started things off with an Asiad Gold in guys’s Shot Put. The 23-year-old additionally broke the video games list and the national checklist in the system. track athletes additionally pitched in with Three medals of their own, with Hima Das girls’s 400m, Muhammed Anas Yahiya guys’s 400m, and Dutee Chand women’s 100m, all profitable the Silver medal.

Following within the footsteps of his friends, Ayyasamy offered yet one other second that should be cherished via Indian for a long time. The 21-year-historic accomplished an impressive run in the guys’s 400m Hurdles adventure to grasp the Silver medal.

Ayyasamy completed the race in exactly forty eight.ninety six seconds, 1.3 seconds in the back of first-placed Abderrahman Samba. having said that, the youngster did be ready to set a brand new countrywide record together with his run.

What’s subsequent?

21-12 months-old Ayyasamy ensured that India’s sparkling run within the competition persevered, by way of successful yet a different medal. here’s hope, that the Indian contingent will stick with it delivering brilliant performances in Jakarta and bring a couple of extra medals.

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Asian games stir Indonesia’s delight, raise Jokowi’s crusade

Asian games stir Indonesia’s delight, raise Jokowi’s crusade

Indonesia’s internet hosting of the Asian games and a list haul of gold medals have swelled countrywide satisfaction, boosting the re-election campaign of President Joko.”Jokowi” Widodo.

the two-week games ended Saturday with Indonesia fourth on the medal table in the back of China, Japan and South Korea. a great chunk of its 31 gold medals were in imprecise activities held best on the Asian games, and none became from swimming or athletics.

however for Indonesia, which has won simplest seven Olympic gold medals — all in badminton — it turned into a landmark haul that outdid its modest ambition of sneaking into the good 10.

A smartly-got opening ceremony, an absence of important organizational complications and Jokowi’s surprise announcement Saturday that Indonesia would bid for the 2032 Olympics have fueled feel-good nationalism that analysts say is probably going to lift Jokowi in voters’ sentiments heading to an April election.

that might widen his already vast lead over former common and ultranationalist flesh presser Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi’s challenger for a 2d time.

The video games will,actually have a good have an effect on on Jokowi’s electability,” noted Syamsuddin Haris, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. “The stunning opening https://www.indobetpoker.net/ ceremony grew to be a successful campaign for the incumbent, specifically to attract swing voters and millennials whose numbers are very big.”

Jokowi became in comparison to Barack Obama when first elected in 2014, and he and his advisers have cultivated a.”cool cred” around his presidency.

That turned into evident two weeks in the past in his cameo at the opening ceremony before a crowd of 40.”000 and a country wide tv audience.

A slickly choreographed video confirmed Jokowi stuck in traffic — a humorous nod to considered one of Jakarta’s essential challenges in internet hosting the video games. He donned a black helmet and raced during the city’s backstreets on a motorcycle to attain the stadium on time.

Then the motorbike proven in the video sped into the stadium and its helmeted driver disappeared right into a tunnel moments before the true Jokowi regarded within the VIP area to thunderous applause.

It resembled part of the opening of the 2012 London Olympics, the place Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond perceived to skydive into the stadium.

In an additional moment that riveted Indonesians, Jokowi turned into proven enthusiastically grooving to track blasting throughout the stadium, a stark distinction to the morbid formality of most Southeast Asian leaders.

Haris referred to the games additionally positively highlighted ethnic and religious differences in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, with more than 260 million people, making it harder to make the most these divisions all through the election campaign, he mentioned.

“The Indonesian individuals noticed how the athletes are fighting for victory, for gold medals, and the winners are not only Muslim, but also of chinese language descent, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist,” Haris pointed out. “this can certainly dampen the sectarian and ethnic issues used in the 2014 presidential elections.”

regardless of Jokowi’s prominence, Subianto wasn’t completely disadvantaged of oxygen.

As chairman of the Pencak Silat association — a local martial artwork included in these games — he become shown on national tv featuring one of the 14 gold medals that Indonesia received in the self-discipline, and in a group hug with Jokowi and one of the winners.

however he turned into additionally mocked online with a mercilessly beneficial meme that juxtaposed a contemporary image of a shirtless and flabby Subianto towards the washboard abs of an Indonesian heartthrob who jubilantly tore off his shirt after successful gold within the men’s badminton singles.

younger Indonesians make up 35-40 percent of voters and will play a,decisive” role within the 2019 presidential race, noted Hugo Brennan, Asia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a company and political risk consultancy.

“Jokowi’s bike stunt during the hole ceremony turned into largely shared on pleasant media and may have burnished his ‘cool credentials’ amongst this essential constituency,” he spoke of.

The PR assume comes lower than a month after Jokowi chose a conservative cleric, Ma’ruf Amin, as his working best mate, dismaying average and liberal supporters however possible neutralizing destructive criticism that he is not sufficiently Islamic.

Most of his five-year time period has been spent balancing the demands of his average horrible, powerful Islamic conservatives, an advanced parliamentary coalition and the armed forces, which has never completely permitted its diminished position following the end of the Suharto dictatorship two many years ago.

enhancing Indonesia’s creaking infrastructure has been Jokowi’s signature coverage — the Asian games ultimately highlighted one of the most progress — and he enters the campaign the clear however not unbeatable front-runner.

If it be any comfort for Prabowo, who changed into narrowly defeated by Jokowi in 2014, the games afterglow will fade and is not likely to be a decisive component when the area’s third largest democracy votes in April, analysts mentioned.

“I feel Jokowi’s and Indonesia’s efficiency in the Asian video games will supply the president a bit of a bump in the polls however i am no longer bound it drastically changes his odds of re-election,” spoke of Eurasia group analyst Peter Mumford.

“Any benefit from the Asian games may additionally have dissipated by way of then. but certainly does not do him any damage,” he mentioned.

Jokowi, although, looks intent on extending its shelf lifestyles, asserting alongside the president of the foreign Olympic Committee on Saturday that as a result of the success of the Asian games, Indonesia will bid for the 2032 Olympics.

———

associated Press creator Niniek Karmini contributed to this record.

Croatia v England: where the world Cup semi-closing can be gained or lost

Croatia v England: where the world Cup semi-closing can be gained or lost

Croatia’s midfield

The massive resolution Zlatko Dalic has to make lies in midfield. Does he play Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic deep with Andrej Kramaric in entrance of them Fig 1, or does he do what he did in opposition t Argentina and Denmark and bring in a greater orthodox holding midfielder?

the former has the abilities of providing greater direct support for Mario Mandzukic so there is somebody to select up the second ball when he wins knockdowns or to capitalise when he pulls wide and crosses, as Kramaric did against Russia. Modric and Rakitic can then are trying to daftar poker control possession and the tempo from deep in midfield. The hazard for Croatia is that Modric finally ends up too deep, unable to exert the variety of affect he did towards Argentina, too tied up with trying to stifle Dele Alli to damage England.

The other alternative is to usher in Marcelo Brozovic Fig 2, or perhaps Milan Badelj. That liberates Modric and Rakitic – despite the fact Rakitic spent a whole lot of that Argentina game monitoring Lionel Messi – and poses a problem for England by using inserting two men in Jordan Henderson’s zone.

that might mean Alli having to drop off, assuming England maintain the identical triangle in midfield in preference to bringing in Eric Dier to play alongside Henderson, or, in all probability, England might depend on some of the lower back three to step as much as offer help behind midfield. that would nonetheless go away them with two guys towards a lone Croatia centre-ahead, which would have the abilities of Alli and Jesse Lingard overmanning in transition towards a single retaining midfielder.

Croatia midfield options Trippier v Perisic

Croatia have a transparent bias to their left, with forty four% of their attacks coming down that flank as adversarial to 33% on the appropriate, with them playing far more through Ivan Perisic than Ante Rebic. England had been far more balanced however this may inevitably have an have an impact on, forcing Kieran Trippier, who has arguably been the ideal correct wing-lower backfull-returned within the event, to do more defending.

That referred to, England do have the advantage of Kyle Walker, who performs at full-returned for his membership, playing on the appropriate of the three important defenders, so if Trippier is caught upfield, he may still be at ease pushing across to cowl. And there is the probability of using a Croatian power against them; if Trippier drives past Perisic, the left-returned Ivan Strinic will also be left isolated. Fig three

The situation is reminiscent of what took place when the facets met in Zagreb in September 2008 – there Rakitic turned into the attacking left-sided Croatian who left his full-back Danijel Pranjic uncovered, leading to Theo Walcott’s simplest overseas hat-trick and a 4-1 England acquire.

Trippier v Perisic Set plays

England have scored 5 of their eleven goals from set plays and two of their penalties have resulted from fouls on Harry Kane conceded within the mêlée England’s corner movements produces. The focal point on corners has been Gareth Southgate’s indisputable triumph, a recognition of a means a country wide manager can make a tangible difference within the exceedingly short time attainable to him.

The basic set-up is easy satisfactory: a line of 4 gamers at the edge of the container, one in all whom stands nevertheless because the ball is delivered while the others scatter, somewhat like a queue in a Tesco Metro abruptly realising two further checkouts are about to be opened. now not most effective does the static player plus his marker function a barrier to support create channels for Kane and Harry Maguire but the flurry of flow seems to impress opponents into making panicky grabs at English shirts.

Queueing whereas declaring foreigners committing infractions of etiquette, of path, has been an English strength for years; Southgate’s genius has been to weaponise it.

Croatia will study England’s circulation and have satisfactory beefy defenders that they may still not be physically intimidated England have received 58.9% of the aerial duels during this tournament, more than anyone else, to Croatia’s fifty seven.5%, however then the identical could have been mentioned of Sweden, towards whom Southgate deployed a variant with two queues of three avid gamers. there will undoubtedly be further routines ready to be unveiled and England could have accompanied how poorly Croatia conceded the late corner in opposition t Russia that brought Mário Fernandes’s equaliser.

Denmark, in the meantime, scored towards them from a protracted throw into the box and Iceland’s Sverrir Ingi Ingason headed in opposition t the bar from a nook within the neighborhood stage.

England’s prowess from set plays can even have knock-on advantages if defenders develop into so anxious on the prospect of conceding a collection play that it makes them, in commence play, reluctant to concede corners. A moment’s hesitation, or an over-bold try and play out from the returned may current England with opportunities.

Mário Fernandes exploits slack set-play marking by way of Croatia to score for Russia. graphic: Robert CianfloneFifa by way of images Penalties

each England and Croatia essential penalties to growth from their ultimate-16 ties, with Croatia then becoming most effective the 2nd group in World Cup historical past to grasp distinct shootouts within the equal event either aspect in Croatia’s last-16 match would have matched the success of Argentina in 1990, as Russia had knocked Spain out by the use of the same method of their old online game. successful video games on penalties, notwithstanding, tends now not to be a sign of long-term fitness. apart from finals, there had been 28 penalty shootouts in World Cup heritage: handiest eight of the victors have long gone on to remove their next online game within a hundred and twenty minutes, and a type of become enjoying a aspect that had also progressed by means of means of penalties.

Modric has seemed in danger of resurrecting an international Cup subculture of essentially the most technically proficient players failing from the passage Socrates, Michel Platini, Dragan Stojkovic, Diego Maradona, Chris Waddle …. He saw his kick saved in extra time in opposition t Denmark and his two penalties in shootouts have each been unconvincing. His effort towards Denmark was worried, straight down the core and best just avoided the trailing foot of the goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, while in opposition t Russia Igor Akinfeev reached a shot that turned into nowhere near the nook however become competent handiest to push it on to the submit from where it cannoned in. he’s not a taker to be relied upon.

Mandzukic v Maguire

Amid all of the euphoria, it is perhaps price remembering that the simplest teams England have in fact beaten in this World Cup are Tunisia, Panama and Sweden. however England’s defence coped smartly towards Radamel Falcao, they had been undone via Yerry Mina from that late Colombia corner.

It isn’t intelligent to examine too lots into one second in one game however, if that hinted at a vulnerability to an aerial hazard at the returned, it’s one Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic is supreme to take knowledge of. The 32-12 months-ancient Juventus forward has won 17 of the 30 aerial duels he has been worried in at this World Cup. Assuming he is wholly healthy – he limped in the course of the ultimate minutes of the quarter-ultimate – he poses an aggressive and cell possibility.

Harry Maguire has gained cult repute for his laid-returned angle, his intention against Sweden and the measurement of his head; now is the time for the Leicester city man to again that up with some precise physical defending. The first rate information is that he has gained 29 of 39 aerial duels and sixty five.four% of these he turned into worried in all through the last Premier League season.

France edges Belgium to reach World Cup final

France edges Belgium to reach World Cup final

Samuel Umtiti, in blue, scores the only goal of the game bast Belgium’s Thibault Courtois.  AP PhotoDavid Vincent

In an end-to-end game full of chances, Samuel Umtiti’s second-half header proved to the be only goal as France defeated Belgium 1-0 Tuesday to reach the World Cup final.

France will face either Croatia or England in Sunday’s championship game at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Belgium will play the loser of daftar poker the other semifinal in the third-place match on Saturday.

The French will have a chance to win their second-ever World Cup title and first since their 1998 victory on home soil. They reached the 2006 final in Berlin, but lost to Italy on penalties.

Belgium was attempting to reach their first-ever final after defeating favorite Brazil in the quarterfinals. But stars Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne couldn’t find their way through the formidable French defense and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who made three crucial saves in the match.

“The game was very close, very tight,” Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said following the match. “It was going to be decided by whoever could find that final touch in the box or a bit of luck in front of goal. The effort from the players was magnificent, I couldn’t ask for more.”

The Barcelona defender Umtiti — who conceded a penalty that led to a goal in France’s first match against Australia — proved an unlikely match-winner in the mold of Lilian Thuram, the defender who scored both French goals in Les Bleus’ 2-1 semifinal win over Croatia in 1998.

Umtiti, who was four years old when captain Zinedine Zidane lifted the World Cup in Saint-Denis, outjumped Marouane Fellaini to head Antoine Griezmann’s corner past Courtois and break Belgium’s resistance.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian King Philippe watch the pre-match festivities in Saint Petersburg.   2018 The .

Up in the corporate seats, French President Emmanuel Macron reacted to the goal by shaking the hand of King Philippe of Belgium as FIFA president Gianni Infantino watched on between them.

The goal capped an impressive defensive display by Umtiti, who helped to shut out the most productive attack in the World Cup with 14 goals, and meant three defenders have now scored on France’s route to the final. Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane scored in previous matches.

In search of the equalizer, Belgium repeatedly sent over crosses from both wings but Umtiti and Varane used their bodies cleverly to hold off Fellaini and Lukaku.

France coach Didier Deschamps has faced some criticism for being too pragmatic and functional despite having so many stars in his squad, but the organization of the team was superb and Belgium was largely restricted to only minor chances as time wound down.

“It’s me that scored,” Umtiti said, “but we all delivered a big game.”

When the match ended, the French players danced on the field and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, another 1998 World Cup winner who is now Belgium’s assistant coach.

“Vive la France! Vive la Republique!” Griezmann shouted as Umtiti conducted his post-match interview.

Deschamps, the captain of that famous 1998 squad, now has the chance to become the third person to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, after Germany great Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mario Zagallo.

With Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar no longer in Russia, Hazard and France forward Kylian Mbappe have taken over as the stars of the World Cup and there was a buzz every time either got the ball.

Yet while Hazard — Belgium’s captain — faded after a strong opening 30 minutes, Mbappe was a constant threat. His first touch was after 10 seconds and, after receiving the ball on the right wing, he sped past Jan Vertonghen and then Mousa Dembele in a thrilling run.

At 19, Mbappe wasn’t even born when France won the World Cup for the first and only time with a squad that is just as diverse as the one Deschamps is leading 20 years later.

The contributed to this report.

France knocks off Belgium to reach World Cup final

France knocks off Belgium to reach World Cup final

The French are winning on and off the pitch. Martin Rogers provides the latest gossip on the hottest couple at the World Cup. USA TODAY

France players celebrate Samuel Umtiti’s goal. Tim Groothuis, Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia – Getting to a World Cup final is supposed to be hard. For France, not so much.

A 1-0 victory over Belgium in Tuesday’s semifinal here clinched Les Bleus a spot in Sunday’s championship showdown and, in truth, it has all looked pretty easy. At no point in the tournament has the team looked in genuine danger daftar poker, and never really moved into top gear, either.

Tense stalemate against your local rival? No problem. The only goal saw Samuel Umtiti send an impressive header past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the 51st minute, giving France an advantage that it would never relinquish.

Stuck in the stacked side of the draw? No worries there either, with Uruguay easily discarded in the quarterfinal and before that, a 4-3 win over Argentina that sounds far more difficult than it truly was. Belgium did its part, seeing off Brazil in the quarterfinals.

France’s recipe has been rooted in consistency. Not consistently outstanding, just consistently consistent. Consistently better, just a little bit better, than all of its rivals, game after game.

That was the case here, blunting enough of Belgium’s typically rampant attack to survive and advance with the minimum of fuss. Maybe it has gotten lucky that all of its opponents have had off days when they have met. Maybe when such a thing happens so often, it has nothing to do with chance.

For all of the destructive attacking forces in its arsenal, it is the backline that has held things together. Hugo Lloris comfortably blocked a fierce second half drive from Axel Witsel, but was otherwise largely undisturbed.

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku couldn’t get anything going up front, Kevin De Bruyne had a rare off day, bringing the team’s enjoyable and entertaining run to an unsatisfying close.

It was outplayed, by a bit. Outcoached, by a bit. Outworked, by the same margin. That is what France does, and that’s how it does it.

On Sunday, the French will try to add a second title to the World Cup it won on home soil in 1998. It is an overwhelming favorite now, whoever steps forwards as the opponent this weekend.

Rarely has a team cruised all the way to a World Cup title. France is one game away from doing so.

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RECAP: France uses their head to power past Belgium into the World Cup Final

RECAP: France uses their head to power past Belgium into the World Cup Final

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia AP — France is back in the World Cup final for the first time since Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt in 2006.

Twelve years after one of soccer’s most infamous moments, Samuel Umtiti used his head to score from a corner kick in the 51st minute and earn France a 1-0 victory over Belgium on Tuesday in the first of the all-European semifinals.

The French players danced on the field after the final whistle and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, who helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in 1998 and is now Belgium’s assistant coach.

All the emotion. France is through to the FIFA #WorldCup final. 🇫🇷 pic.mDJSzP9rTsp

— FOX Sports FOXSports July 10, 2018

France will face either Croatia or England in the final daftar poker on Sunday in Moscow. Those two teams play in the other semifinal match on Wednesday, also in Moscow.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris produced a great save in each half, denying the potent Belgian attack of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku the chance to advance the country to its first major final. Belgium reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016 but has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations.

The world now gets to see France’s luxury squad, collectively valued in excess of $1 billion and headlined by teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, in another major final.

Two years ago at home, the French surprisingly lost to Portugal 1-0 in the Euro 2016 title match. In 2006, they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Italy in a World Cup final that was overshadowed by Zidane headbutting opposing player Marco Materazzi in the chest in extra time. Zidane was sent off in what was his final match.

In a tournament dominated by goals from set pieces, France’s took the lead from a corner. Antoine Griezmann curled in the ball from the right and Umtiti got in front of tall Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini to knock in his header at the near post.

Up in the corporate seats, French President Emmanuel Macron reacted to the goal by shaking the hand of King Philippe of Belgium as FIFA president Gianni Infantino watched on between them.

The goal capped an impressive display by Umtiti, who helped to shut out the most productive attack in the World Cup with 14 goals, and meant three defenders have now scored on France’s route to the final. Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane scored in previous matches.

“We are creating our own history”

Match-winner Samuel Umtiti is eyeing France’s second ever FIFA World Cup title. pic.m0ANAOUgg4l

— FOX Soccer FOXSoccer July 10, 2018

In search of the equalizer, Belgium repeatedly sent over crosses from both wings but Umtiti and Varane, both center backs, used their bodies cleverly to hold off Fellaini and Lukaku.

France coach Didier Deschamps has faced some criticism for being too pragmatic and functional despite having so many stars in his squad, but the organization of the team was superb and Belgium was largely restricted to only minor chances that were kept out by the flying Lloris.

Deschamps now has the chance to become the third person to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, after Germany great Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mario Zagallo. As France captain, Deschamps won soccer’s most prized trophy in 1998.

France aren’t broken, so Deschamps won’t change for World Cup final

France aren’t broken, so Deschamps won’t change for World Cup final

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA — It’s one of the oldest footballing maxims out there, and it exists in different idioms and cultures. Giovanni Trapattoni used to say that a good coach could make a team 5 percent better, but a bad one — or, to be a bit more civil, a coach who makes wrong decisions — could make a side 30 percent worse.

Diego Simeone served up his own version in his recent leaked WhatsApp j’accuse by saying that results were ordinarily 90 percent down to players, but when you have a disaster of a coaching staff read: Jorge Sampaoli, then they can only influence things up to 60 percent.

France vs. Belgium at St. Petersburg’s version of the Death Star was a study in two contrasting managers. One, Didier Deschamps, lives by football’s version of the Hippocratic Oath: daftar poker above all, do no harm. His France team do not have a distinct footballing identity beyond the Deschamps version of Hulk Hogan’s four demandments, only Didi has three: defend, work hard and wait for something to happen. There is no multiplier effect tactically, no attempt to create particular synergies between his players through sophisticated movement and positioning. It’s about trusting your big guns to do something of their own volition while raising the barricades at the back.

That’s why you see France with three central midfielders and poor Paul Pogba asked to play little more than a bouncer role in front of the back four. And because that’s not enough, he gets help from the ubiquitous N’Golo Kante if defensive players won awards, he’d be a shoo-in and Blaise Matuidi too. All this in front of a back four with two safety-first fullbacks.

The other is Roberto Martinez who, believing in the added value his tactical mind brings, conjures up complicated schemes to get the best out of his side. When it works, it’s very good. When it doesn’t — and against France, it fell as flat as a road-graded waffle — it’s a disaster.

Before we get into it, let’s remind ourselves that Martinez has some mitigating circumstances. The first is that unlike Deschamps, he wasn’t born with a silver spoon. He didn’t have the same sort of stellar career as a player and wasn’t handed a top team straight out of retirement, either. He got where he is because he has a clearly defined approach to football and a reputation as a guy who makes teams more than the sum of their parts. So for him, going the Deschamps’ route of laissez-faire was not an option.

The other was that he was missing Thomas Meunier, who may not be a superstar outside his own household but was a critical cog in Belgium’s machine. He was the natural right-sided defender who could be deployed in a back four or as a wing-back. But Meunier was suspended for this match and his absence set off a chain of events that ultimately proved to be Belgium’s undoing.

Deschamps, centre, will always be a pragmatic manager but in the likes of Pogba, right, he’s got the players who can still thrive. Now they’re one win from the World Cup. Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Images

Martinez opted for a hybrid set-up that essentially featured a back three with Nacer Chadli who played on the left in his last outing over on the right and Jan Vertonghen playing as a sort of narrow left-back who never ventures forward. Chadli saw plenty of the ball but had little luck against Lucas Hernandez; the real issue was that it forced Martinez to add another big body Mousa Dembele in midfield alongside Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel. Fellaini managed to disappear for long stretches quite a feat for a man his size, while Dembele slowed Belgium down considerably though he did get a few good licks in off the ball.

“We were missing a very important player and we adapted in the best possible manner,” Martinez said. “Pace is the real threat on this France team, and we coped with it very well — we never really got hurt on the counter. In the end, the difference was a goal from a set piece.”

That’s textbook glass-half-full-ism because it was always going to be the case that France were going to sit and look to hit on the break. It’s the Deschamps way. Yes, Belgium largely neutralized that, but the issue is that they did not create as much at the other end despite boasting Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard, two of the best playmakers in the world. And a lot of that had to do with a stodgy midfield that often circulated the ball with all the predictability of bad Aaron Sorkin dialogue.

Limit the game to chances created and conceded at least before the final quarter-hour, when Belgium naturally threw caution to the wind and you might even argue this game could easily have gone the other way.

“We controlled the game, and just as we were growing in the second half, they scored on a corner,” Martinez said. “That’s how close this game was. If we had scored first, it would have been different. But the margins are very small.”

They certainly are and they have been throughout this World Cup, where the knockout rounds have seen six of 13 games decided by a goal or less — and four more on penalties after 120 minutes of deadlocked football. But that’s why it becomes so critical for a manager to impose his will on the match.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – JULY 10: Samuel Umtiti of France celebrates with teammate Olivier Giroud after scoring his team’s first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between Belgium and France at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July Shaun Botterill Images

For Deschamps, it was not to concede. For Martinez, it was to create chances and control the game. The former succeeded, the latter did not. And sure, some will point out that simply not conceding when you have better players than the opposition is easier than actually creating and a bit of a cop out. But that’s how Deschamps and France got this far.

And he’s not about to change.

“We have to be pragmatic and we have to be realistic,” Deschamps said. “We are about mental strength and solidarity, working for each other.”

He rattles off examples of how proud he is of his players: Pogba “monstrous and tactically intelligent”, the defenders “stopped them from playing for most of the game”, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud “so clever in how they dropped into midfield to let the Belgian defenders who — and I do not mean to offend them — are technically inferior have the ball”.

This is what he values: a team whose collars are as blue as their shirts. And while knowing that if he tinkers too much, he’s only going to mess things up.

Thus far, this France team have done the bare minimum of what they had to do. Give Argentina enough rope to hang themselves. A set piece header and a goalkeeping error against Uruguay. Samuel Umtiti beating Fellaini in the air.

You see flashes that make you think they can do much, much more — Kylian Mbappe being Exhibit A, as he was much better than against Uruguay but faded in and out as Tuesday’s semifinal game wore on. But then you realize France don’t really need to. They’re happy playing the percentages, and that’s how Deschamps likes it.

France ain’t broke. They’re in the World Cup final. Why fix it?

France advances to World Cup final, beats Belgium 1-0

France advances to World Cup final, beats Belgium 1-0

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia –  France is back in the World Cup final for the first time since Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt in 2006.

Twelve years after one of soccer’s most infamous moments, Samuel Umtiti used his head to score from a corner kick in the 51st minute and earn France a 1-0 victory over Belgium on Tuesday in the first of the all-European semifinals.

The French players danced on the field after the final whistle daftar poker and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, who helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in 1998 and is now Belgium’s assistant coach.

France will face either Croatia or England in the final on Sunday in Moscow. Those two teams play in the other semifinal match on Wednesday, also in Moscow.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris produced a great save in each half, denying the potent Belgian attack of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku the chance to advance the country to its first major final. Belgium reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016 but has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations.

The world now gets to see France’s luxury squad, collectively valued in excess of $1 billion and headlined by teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, in another major final.

Two years ago at home, the French surprisingly lost to Portugal 1-0 in the Euro 2016 title match. In 2006, they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Italy in a World Cup final that was overshadowed by Zidane headbutting opposing player Marco Materazzi in the chest in extra time. Zidane was sent off in what was his final match.

In a tournament dominated by goals from set pieces, France’s took the lead from a corner. Antoine Griezmann curled in the ball from the right and Umtiti got in front of tall Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini to knock in his header at the near post.

Up in the corporate seats, French President Emmanuel Macron reacted to the goal by shaking the hand of King Philippe of Belgium as FIFA president Gianni Infantino watched on between them.

The goal capped an impressive display by Umtiti, who helped to shut out the most productive attack in the World Cup with 14 goals, and meant three defenders have now scored on France’s route to the final. Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane scored in previous matches.

In search of the equalizer, Belgium repeatedly sent over crosses from both wings but Umtiti and Varane, both center backs, used their bodies cleverly to hold off Fellaini and Lukaku.

France coach Didier Deschamps has faced some criticism for being too pragmatic and functional despite having so many stars in his squad, but the organization of the team was superb and Belgium was largely restricted to only minor chances that were kept out by the flying Lloris.

Deschamps now has the chance to become the third person to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, after Germany great Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mario Zagallo. As France captain, Deschamps won soccer’s most prized trophy in 1998.

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Steve Douglas is at .msdouglas80

France, With Flash to Spare, Reaches the World Cup Final

France, With Flash to Spare, Reaches the World Cup Final

France has, somehow, reached the cusp of greatness without ever really having given the impression it has stretched itself, or reached its full potential. It sleepwalked through its group, with single-goal victories against Australia and Peru, and a mind-numbing goalless draw with Denmark.

In the round of 16, against an Argentina side mired in chaos and permanently on the verge of a meltdown, it roused itself for a few minutes, scored three quick-fire goals, then sank back into itself, eventually winning — again — by just one goal.

It was only in the quarterfinal, against Uruguay, that it finally broke that trend of squeaking by, but only thanks a header off a set piece and an egregious error from Fernando Muslera, daftar poker the Uruguayan goalkeeper. France reached St. Petersburg, and the semifinal, hardly having broken a sweat.

It was greeted there by Belgium, whose own golden generation was supposed to provide a significantly more exacting test, to force the French out of their shells, to demand that Manager Didier Deschamps’s richly gifted players finally live up to their lofty reputations. For 50 minutes, the Belgians threatened to do just that, to draw this team into the open field. And then Samuel Umtiti scored — slipping his marker to meet Griezmann’s corner — and France drew back once more, content to contain and control.

Deschamps’s players let Belgium burn itself out, deprived it first of hope, and then of life, all the while not expending a drop of energy more than was strictly necessary.

Belgium’s Eden Hazard, in particular, had started the game as a ball of energy, twisting and turning and writhing his way past Benjamin Pavard, France’s right back; Hazard had the look of a player very conscious of the fact that this was his chance to stake a claim for greatness.

By the end, he looked adrift. He had long since wandered into central midfield, craving some sort of space, some sort of peace, only to find neither. His sparkle had gone, and so had his spark.

It was not — as might be expected, in the era of counter-pressing, that frenzied style of harrying and harassing that is so en vogue in European club soccer — because the French had pummeled him and his team into submission, barely allowing a moment’s rest, but because they had done the opposite: They waited as Belgium wandered into their sleeper-hold, and then simply refused to let go.

That has been France’s unexpected forte in this tournament: its defensive strength, its imperturbability, the ease with which it blunts an attack. Only Argentina has scored against the French from open play. They are so assured in defense that none of those single-goal victories felt at all close, or tense; they all seemed to be over long before the final whistle. So, too, here: When the game ended, the explosion of joy from the French players, and their small squadron of fans, felt somehow out of place, out of context, with the torpor that had descended.

France has achieved this not, as the teams of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino seek to do, by seeking to coil itself around its prey, squeezing the breath from its opponents. Its approach resembles that of a crocodile, rather than a snake: It waits, pounces, and then sinks back beneath the surface, happy to wait again.

Given the personnel at his disposal, it is hard not to feel that Deschamps is forcing his players to do something that does not come naturally to them. This is a squad that could — should — be tearing through opponents; with its abilities, courage should not feel like a risk. There is a lingering feeling that France is not making the most of his resources, a temptation to wonder what this team might achieve, what it might become, with a less conservative, less cautious manager.

It is easy to speculate, too, that France’s passivity, that lack of ambition, might eventually prove its undoing, that in the final it will need to raise its game and will ultimately be unable — or unwilling — to do so.

There is, though, a counter argument that is no less compelling. France has met every challenge and passed them with ease. Lionel Messi could not disrupt its serenity; nor could Luis Suárez; now Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have failed, too.

True, there has been no flawless performance, no marquee display to rival Croatia’s win against Argentina or even Belgium’s quarterfinal victory against Brazil; true, there has been a reliance on goals from set pieces; true, France has only ever edged through, rather than sweeping past clearly inferior opponents. It has always had enough, and done enough, but never more.

But those moments, those glimpses of what lies beneath, should not be forgotten. They are dangerous precisely because they hint at what might be, at what France has in reserve, should it be needed. This is a team that has another gear, another level that it can find as and when it is required.

Deschamps and his players are in the World Cup final because of what they are: a team designed to draw the sting, to suck the air from a game, to deprive the fire of oxygen. It is hard to believe they will not win it, though, because of what they might be: the team with the sting, with the air, with the fire. France, for the last month, has done what is required. It will be confident it can do so, one last time.

Photo France’s Kylian Mbappe in action with Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne. Credit Lee SmithReuters

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Here’s how France beat Belgium, from Victor Mather and Kevin Draper in New York and Andrew Das in St. Petersburg:

FULL TIME: France 1, Belgium 0

That’s it! France has advanced to the World Cup final with a 1-0 victory over Belgium.

The goal was scored by Samuel Umtiti, who dropped his marker Toby Alderweireld, outjumped the very tall Marouane Fellaini and headed home an Antoine Griezmann corner. The ball was in the net before Belgium keeper Thiebaut Courtois could do anything about it.

France will play the winner of the other semifinal on Wednesday, England or Croatia.

90’ + 4: Mbappe Sells It

Vertonghem bumps into Mbappe, who sells it with a leap and a fall. The replay does not appear to show much contact. Still, a yellow for Vertonghen.

90’ +3: Belgium Survives a Killer

France almost put the game away! They dispossessed Belgium in their own half and freed Griezmann for a wide-open shot, but Courtois quickly got down to his right to corral the shot.

90 +2’: Mbappe Stalls

Mbappe, rather than giving the ball to Belgium for a throw-in, dribbles it away for a moment, drawing the ire of Belgium and some shoves. The ref hits him up with a yellow.

Andrew Das: French time-wasting is the new diving.

90’ + 1: Offense for Belgium

Another striker on for Belgium: Batshuayi for Chadli. Another head to lob balls at. But first they have to get it back from France.

90’: Six More Minutes

Belgium will have 6 minutes of stoppage time to find an equalizer.

89’: Lukaku Can’t Convert

De Bruyne lobs from far out, and Lukaku is there unmarked. But he comes a few inches short of getting his head to it.

88’: Yellow for Kante

Kanté caught there for a professional foul — he gets a yellow. But the bigger problem is he’s given De Bruyne a shooting-range free kick in the 88th minute. That’s a kind of regrettable error if it goes wrong.

87’: French Slowing It Down

Matuidi cannot continue after that collision. He’s out and France brings in Tolisso.

Andrew Das: With Matuidi down again, Belgium is furious with the referee Cunha for not speeding this along. The French are A1 at gamesmanship though, and they know exactly what they’re doing here.

86’: France Locks It Down

France has really locked this down nicely since the goal, which initially gave them a bit of life. But as we’ve entered the final minutes they’re really focusing on the job at hand: sucking the life out of the game, not giving Belgium a sniff of an opening, and getting out of here at 1-0.

85’: France Makes a Change

France makes their first substitution, bringing Steven N’Zonzi in for Olivier Giroud.

Kevin Draper: France is doing a very effective job killing this game off. Belgium is attacking desperately — perhaps too desperately, sometimes taking turns taking on three men — but aren’t actually generating anything dangerous.

83’: Collision!

Hazard is definitely down for real this time after a hard collision with Matuidi on a 5050 ball. It wasn’t so much a challenge as a flying body block by Hazard, though. Rough, rough play there.

82’: Lloris Saves

Witsel of Belgium pounces on a loose ball and drives in a shot from distance. Lloris makes a diving punch save.

Hazard Goes Down

The Uruguayan referee, Andres Cunha, wasn’t buying Hazard’s fall there, but the replay made it look as if Varane hit him knee to knee right at the top of the area.

80’: Carrasco On for Fellaini

Yannick Carrasco, a winger who plays in China, comes in for Marouane Fellaini.

79’: Free Kick for France

Antoine Griezmann lingers over a France free kick. Then he sends a ball that Pogba heads out of play.

76’: Belgium Panicking

De Bruyne, perhaps concerned about the clock advancing to 75 minutes, tries a shot from outside the box but it’s way too high.

Andrew Das: Mertens has been a good addition for Belgium: dangerous crosses and some good width out right. But Fellaini feels like the game has left him behind up there next to Lukaku. Still, a good cross from Mertens, a well-placed head …… he’s done it before.

76’: Where’s Lukaku?

Romelu Lukaku has been invisible this game. He has just 16 touches of the ball — Dries Mertens, who came on 15 minutes ago, already has 13 — and one shot. He hasn’t gotten much service and has had a center back draped on his shoulder all game, but he’s got to do better.

73’: Hazard Pushes

Eden Hazard has practically dropped back into defense to receive the ball, as he tries to hurry Belgium into an attack, impatient that his defenders and Axel Witsel aren’t doing so quickly enough.

Andrew Das: Belgium is patiently working the ball, working the ball, working the ball. It all felt a bit like Spain-Russia there, ike they were just looking for an opening. But the opening never came, they lost the ball, and a couple more minutes have ticked off the clock.

71’: More Chances for Belgium

Belgium possessed the ball right outside of France’s goal for a solid minute, pumping quite a few crosses into the box, but aren’t able to get a shot off before Paul Pogba clears it with his head.

68’: Giroud Sails One

Kylian Mbappe passes to Antoine Griezmann, who crosses it beautifully to Olivier Giroud, who … blasts it over the bar.

67’: Yellow for Hazard

Eden Hazard gets a yellow there for breaking up the counterattack by dragging down Matuidi, but he had to do it. Fellaini, by the way, has stayed in his advanced role; it’s Witsel who is picking up all the slack in midfield since Dembélé left. It’s a big job, and he can’t make a single mistake.

66’: Fellaini … Just Wide!

Mertens crosses, and Fellaini is there, single covered by Pogba, with the head that has scored so many goals. This one goes just wide though.

62’: Belgium Grabs Possession

Hazard, Lukaku and Mertens combine on some nice passing, but the final touch is not there.

60’: Belgium Makes a Change

Dries Mertens in, Ousmane Dembele out as Belgium tries to shake things up with the first substitution of the game.

Andrew Das: This will make things a bit more exciting, that’s for sure. But it also will require a bit more defensively from Fellaini now, because France senses blood in the water here, and they’re coming forward fast when they can.

56’: Giroud … Blocked!

Kylian Mbappé sends Olivier Giroud on goal with a spectacular back heel, but Giroud’s shot is blocked at the last moment.

Andrew Das: What a chance that was: brilliant backheel from Mbappe after a quick give-and-go involving Hernandez and Matuidi. Really fun, and Belgium is lucky — and can thank Courtois, I believe — that the ball didn’t end up in the net amid ooohs and ahhhs. It must be nice to be good enough to even TRY that in a World Cup semifinal.

55’: Great Opportunity for France

Greizmann has a free kick just outside of the box and it’s another great opportunity for France. But his effort goes right to several Belgians and it is headed away.

Photo France’s Samuel Umtiti celebrates scoring their first goal. Credit Lee SmithReuters 51’: GOAL! France Leads

After Vincent Kompany blocks an Olivier Giroud shot, a corner comes in from Antoine Griezmann. Samuel Umtiti simply out-jumps the very tall Marouane Fellaini to score. France has a 1-0 lead.

Andrew Das: Disaster for Belgium: Umtiti dropped Alderweireld and nearly had a free header there. Fellaini arrived late to at least make it a contested one, but the damage was already done and the ball was in the net before Courtois could do anything about it.

48’: Varane Clears It

Witsel lobs in a ball to Lukaku, but Varane of France is all over him, so he gets a head on it but can’t fire off a good shot.

Kevin Draper: It seems appropriate that on the same day Cristiano Ronaldo transfers to Juventus, two of his rumored replacements, Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappé, are the best players in a World Cup match.

Moving the Ball

One stat increasing in popularity is “possession advanced,” which tries to measure which players move the ball forward the most. A player gets full credit for dribbles forward, and half credit for passes. The leader in this game so far is Benjamin Pavard of France at 118 meters. Eden Hazard leads Belgium at 109.

Andrew Das: The stadium does not appear full, especially in some of the best seats near midfield, which seems strange for a World Cup semifinal. But France and Belgium don’t travel like Brazil, which surely thought it’d be here, or a few other countries, and the atmosphere is missing some of the fire we saw when teams from the Americas played earlier in the tournament. Wednesday night’s second semifinal, England and Croatia, ought to have a bit more life as English fans start to arrive in full voice.

The Numbers

Belgium was the short-passing team in this game, controlling possession at 58-42 percent and outpassing France, 318-201. But France’s direct style led to more shots: an 11-3 advantage. Unfortunately for France, only two of those shots were on net. Six were off target, and three were blocked.

Griezmann led the way with four shots for France, although none of those was on target. Belgium has most of its passing coming from the defense, with Alderweireld and Kompany having 50 and 46 passes. Of course, those uncontested sideways passes in Belgium’s end are taking place a long way from where the goals are scored.

Two Halves Within a Half

Andrew Das: You could break that first half into halves of its own. The first one, with Belgium dangerous and on the front foot, was quite a bit of fun. France finally found its feet and had a couple of good chances — a rocket by Matuidi, the Pavard shot late — and a few at the other end, including a late cross that found its way to Lukaku, who seemed so surprised to see it come in it was the first good one in all 45 minutes that it hit him like a stone and went out of play.

Both teams will find things to like there: Hazard was excellent, probably the best player on the field, and De Bruyne was dangerous at times, too. But Mbappe’s speed is an undeniable asset running at Vertonghen, and Pogba’s ability to shake off Fellaini in the last 10 minutes is a good sign for France.

Kevin Draper: When France has possessed the ball they’ve played direct. Pogba has played a few 40 yard passes from half field that Kylian Mbappé and Olivier Giroud were almost able to get on the other end of. Antoine Griezmann has taken a few long shots, but hasn’t been nearly as dangerous as he was in previous games.

Halftime: France 0, Belgium 0

in stoppage time, Kevin De Bruyne crossed a ball into the box for Belgium, but Samuel Umtiti got in the way again, altering the course enough that it caroms off the waiting Lukaku’s hip instead of his foot. And that’s halftime!

Kevin Draper: France was a slight favorite before the match began, but on balance Belgium has been the much better team. Belgium has mostly been attacking on the fringes, avoiding N’Golo Kanté in the middle and counting on Romelu Lukaku to keep the center backs occupied. De Bruyne and Hazard have generated a few chances, and Belgium almost scored off a couple of corner kicks.

44’: Free Kick for France

Paul Pogba gets into a dangerous position, and is pulled down from behind. France gets a great free kick chance. But Griezmann boots it right into the wall.

42’: France Shows Up

France has fully come into this match for the first time in the last five minutes. They still look more comfortable counter attacking than possessing the ball, but they’re starting to generate a few dangerous chances.

40’: Courtois Kicks One Out

Kylian Mbappe plays Benjamin Pavard through with a nice ball, but Courtois manages to tip his shot wide with his back heel. France’s corner kick is then cleared by the first man.

Andrew Das: Gorgeous exchange between Pavard and Mbappé there, but it’s the defender who winds up with the ball and closing on Courtois, who gets a toe on the wayward shot and keeps it out.

37’: Giroud Gets the Magic Spray

Olivier Giroud goes down clutching the back of his right leg after getting clipped. The magic freezing spray is liberally applied to the injured leg, and he hops up good as new.

Andrew Das: The contact that brought down Giroud really seemed innocuous, but he’s really hurting. Just got clipped on the heel, but he’s holding his head like it was a sword wound.

34’: Great Chance for France

A long ball finds Kylian Mbappe inside the box, and he crosses it on the ground to Olivier Giroud, a step in front of his defender. But Giroud can only half-slide and swing at the ball, and his shot goes well wide. That was France’s best chance so far.

Andrew Das: Giroud really failed Mbappé on that last cross. He was late getting back onside and was watching as the young forward ran on to an overlapping ball, but only belatedly seemed to realize, ‘You know, that might get cross — oh no.’ And when he did realize, he was a step late to the ball, and the chance was wasted.

Photo Belgium’s Moussa Dembele, left, and France’s Antoine Griezmann in the first quarter. Credit Giuseppe CacaceAgence France-Presse — Images 33’: Giroud Goes Down

The first of what we would expect will be numerous penalty appeals in the game as Giroud goes down. The ref is not having it. Then Griezmann gets the ball and shoots with his less effective right foot and misses.

32’: Hazard and De Bruyne Toying With France

Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne look like the best two players on the pitch. Hazard just filleted Pavard and Pogba but the ball rolled out just before he could control it again, but if he keeps dribbling like that he’s sure to get a goal or assist.

Andrew Das: It’s strange how Fellaini gets involved in so much of what Belgium does up top — crosses, corners — but only with his head. It’s like his teammates won’t pass the ball to his feet. But he’s playing very advanced, just a step or two behind Lukaku, and apparently tasked with winning headers and, failing that, breaking up French attacks before they can start. As soon as he does either of those, he’s off to find Pogba.

32’: Another Miss for France

Antoine Griezmann takes the free kick for France. He sends it in and Pavard chips it in to Giroud, who hits it wide with his head.

29’: Umtiti Saves France!

Samuel Umtiti saves the day for France. Kevin De Bruyne crosses the ball low right in front of net and Romelu Lukaku is right there for the poke in. But Umtiti slides in and clears in a last-ditch move.

26’: Fellaini vs. Pogba

Fellaini and Pogba are effectively attached at the hip, which is probably not altogether new for either of them, since it probably happens in training at Manchester United quite a bit. But Belgium will take that cold war any day; Pogba is a far more dangerous player when he gets loose. But he can’t get loose, and when Fellaini bodies him, he doesn’t seem to like it. Which may be precisely the point of doing it.

25’: Fellaini in the Right Spot

First corner for France Belgium has four. Felliani easily heads it away.

23’: France Counterattacks

Another long pass from halfway, and this time Olivier Giroud is on it for France. He lunges for it, doesn’t get quite all of it, and it goes wide.

Kevin Draper: It is quite surprising how flat France has begun this game. They have just as many all-world attackers as Belgium and a defense anchored by stalwarts from Real Madrid and Barcelona, and yet they look like they have already conceded that Belgium is the much better team.

22’: Belgium Firing Away

Off of yet another corner, the ball trickles free to Toby Alderweireld at the penalty spot. His left-footed shot is punched out by Hugo Lloris for another corner kick, which amounts to nothing.

Andrew Das: Belgium has come close about four times in the past five minutes — the last on that Alderweireld shot off the corner that Lloris was lucky to save with a dive. It’s been a really entertaining first 20 minutes, but 90 percent of that has been Belgium nearly scoring.That they haven’t may be the one good thing France has done so far.

20’: Scare for France

De Bruyne tries a little chip-shot pass to Felliani, who is just about offsides, although the flag does not go up. Lloris punches it away after a moment of terror for France.

19’: Varane Saves One

Eden Hazard whips a shot toward the outside post from inside the box, but Raphaël Varane barely got the back of his head on it to hit it behind for a corner.

18’: France Fires, but Courtois Is There

Blaise Matuidi, returning to France’s lineup for this game, fires off a shot from outside the box that forces Courtois into a save.

Andrew Das: That was a rocket from Matuidi, and a great sign for France. But it hits Courtois right in the gloves. But once again, Belgium is right back at the other end in seconds, with Hazard lashing a shot that Varane nods jussssst over the crossbar behind a beaten Lloris.

16’: Hazard Misses

Off an interception, Kevin De Bruyne plays a quick one-touch ball to Eden Hazard in the box and he’s unmarked. But Hazard hits it wide right! Good chance.

Kevin Draper: Both Belgium and France have had their best chances of the match in the last few minutes, and perhaps not coincidentally both came quickly after turnovers. This might be a match of intentionally soaking up pressure in order to entice midfielders forward, before hitting back on the counter attack.

14’: De Bruyne Loses One

Kevin De Bruyne just attacked the French defense at speed, but a miscommunication with Romelu Lukaku caused a turnover and ruined the chance.

13’: Pogba Finds Mbappe

A long through ball from halfway by Paul Pogba finds Kylian Mbappe, and he’s a half step ahead of his man. But Courtois slides down to grab it just in time.

Andrew Das: Belgium in a bit of a fluid formation, with Witsel and Dembele protecting the back three, and Chadli dropping in at eight back when France has the ball and he has time.

10’: France Flickers

A rare venture forward by Griezmann and France brings their fans to life — but only briefly, as Kompany clears the first sign of danger with a powerful header. And back down the other end we go ….

Kevin Draper: Both teams have shown ruthless counterattacking prowess this tournament, and so each attack seems cautious in throwing numbers forward. Belgium is patiently probing the French defense, with Axel Witsel and Mousa Dembele both staying at home to protect the back three.

9’: Belgium the Better Side Right Now

Belgium’s passing has been crisp and prolific so far, with France going some extended periods without touching the ball.

6’: Corner for Belgium

Nacer Chadli’s corner is a little too strong and goes over his teammates’ heads.

4’: Belgium Keeps Possession

That early burst of brilliance by Mbappe has been followed by a few minutes of Belgium trying whatever it wants on the right.

1’: Mbappe Makes a Statement

it took Mbappe all of five seconds to drop Vertonghen like a bad penny, race down the wing and flash in a cross that ALMOST met Griezmann in stride. Great start for France.

Interactive Feature

There have been 23 goals scored in the 90th minute and second-half stoppage time so far in this World Cup, shattering the previous high of 14, set four years ago in Brazil.