Belgium’s big stars failed to turn up against France

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The ESPN FC panel break down what went wrong for Belgium against France and why their golden generation failed again to live up to expectations.

FC's Alejandro Moreno and Shaka Hislop reveal their ratings for France and Belgium which see Romelu Lukaku receive the lowest mark.

Former Nigeria midfielder Henry Nwosu says France were more ambitious to reach the World Cup final following their 1-0 semi-final win over Belgium on Tuesday.

Les Bleus are headed to the World Cup final.

Deschamps and his players are in the World Cup final because of what they are: a team created to draw the sting, to suck the air from a game, to deprive the fire of oxygen.

"My players are young but they played with a good mentality against a good Belgium", Deschamps told reporters after the game.

This did not faze Belgium, though, as it dominated possession with Toby Alderweireld symbolising the offensive outlook - he made no less than 12 passes in the final third during the first half, far more than any other player, in addition to coming close to scoring from a corner. "That's more my style".

Once the second half got underway, there wasn't long to wait for the deadlock to be broken and, considering the amount of set-piece goals scored at Russian Federation 2018, it should not have been a surprise that the opener came from a corner. We expected that, but we couldn't find that little spark to score a goal.

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And De Bruyne said: "Have I been annoyed by France?".

"We should have won, but didn't manage to, although France were not better than us". "We could have done better, but we didn't".

"Our dressing room is sad. There has been a lot of change between both competitions [the Euros and World Cup] but for the players who were involved, yes, we can use our experience to show the right way to the young lads".

But it wasn't those flashes of neon brilliance that took France past Belgium in a 1-0 win that sent thousands out to celebrate on the Champs-Elysees.

I understand why after the game Belgium captain Eden Hazard, who came through the French academy system and has an affinity to the country, said: "I prefer to lose with this Belgium than win with this France". "It's just an anti-football team", said Thibaut Courtois. There were certainly shades of this in the European Championships two years ago, but no one would confuse Payet's proclivity for flair at the expense of playing a complete match or the lackadaisical defending of Patrice Evra or Bacary Sagna for the dogged performances of current full-backs Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard. Meunier has had a significant role to play; we have seen him perform assists, goals and generally participate well in matches. In truth, the feeling I was left with after the game was what happened to the Red Devils star players.

"FIFA's priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation and we will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a Federation Internationale de Football Association event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration", said Federation Internationale de Football Association spokesperson.

"We need to understand it's an important game, but I accept it's very hard after a game with the emotions we had today".

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