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Also striking: the final four teams are all European.

England face Croatia in the tournament's other semi-final clash after they advanced by easing past Sweden 2-0 in the last eight.

Everyone knew about the array of talent running through the Belgium side, from Thibaut Courtois in goal to Kevin De Bruyne in midfield and Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku up front.

The Brazilian attacker drew the ire of football fans around the world for his on-pitch antics, with his regular theatrics after getting fouled becoming tiresome very quickly for supporters.

Another soothsayer-like prediction had England overcoming Colombia in the last 16, which Gareth Southgate's men did so via a dramatic penalty shootout.

Belgium's Nacer Chadli has praised France's Kylian Mbappe ahead of Tuesday's World Cup semifinal in St. Petersburg.

More news: Roger Federer sprints past Struff to stay on title course — ATP Wimbledon

"'Hazard?" We've already eliminated the best player in the World [Messi], said Atletico Madrid defender Hernandez, who has started all five of France's games in the tournament.

Handed the armband by Roberto Martinez despite Vincent Kompany's return from injury, the Spaniard has drawn out Hazard's leadership qualities.

"They did it. You saw incredible heart from this team", BBC Sport quotes Martinez as saying. What was Neymar up to at this World Cup?

"Everything is open, up for grabs", he said.

France return to the semi-finals against Belgium tomorrow and, while the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba stand as the potential superstar heirs to Zidane, Henry and Djorkaeff, the most striking parallel is to another undroppable striker who can not now score.

After making it through the quarterfinals, the final four squads will have a couple of days to prepare for their next matches. England had a comfortable victory against Sweden in their quarterfinal match whereas Croatia had to fight with Russian Federation to win the game in penalties. One option could see Fernandinho come into the side for a role he is accustomed to playing at Manchester City.


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