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Didier Deschamps’ calm tactics usher France into World Cup final after victory over Belgium

In this edition of Manager In Focus, Sport360's Brendon Netto analyses the tactical input of Didier Deschamps in France's win over Belgium in the World Cup semi-finals

Brendon Netto 2018/07/10

France beat Belgium 1-0 to reach the World Cup final on Tuesday.

Samuel Umtiti headed in the only goal of the game from a corner in the second half. Belgium had the greater share of possession but Les Bleus remained solid to book their spot in the final.

Here’s a look at how they gained the tactical edge over their opponents.

BASIC STATS

Goals – 1

Shots – 19

Possession – 36%

Tackles – 18

Dribbles – 10

30-SECOND REPORT

Didier Deschamps kept faith with his 4-2-3-1 system and pulled no surprises with a predictable but formidable line-up. Blaise Matuidi started on the left side of attacking midfield as N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba patrolled the middle. Matuidi tucked into central midfield though, allowing Pogba to stride forward when the opportunity presented itself.

Olivier Giroud was the focal point of the attack while Antoine Griezmann shuttled between midfield and attack, being the link-man between the two. Once France gained the lead though, they formed a low block, with even Giroud retreating to the edge of his own box at times. Only Kylian Mbappe was their attacking outlet.

Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal.

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Threat in behind

Unsurprisingly, France were happy to invite Belgium onto them and didn’t get caught up in some of their movement in forward areas. The defence held their line well while Belgium’s stepped up, leaving plenty of space in behind. As soon as France won possession, they shifted the ball with quick exchanges before looking for the through ball, usually directed at the pacey Mbappe.

Pogba was excellent in the transition, wriggling free on a few occasions before playing the forward pass. Giroud was also a target while Griezmann was excellent at pulling into space intelligently.

Mbappe was France’s outlet.

VERDICT

Surely he will finally receive the plaudits he deserves? Not a scintillating display yet again but few coaches could have so effectively neutralised this Belgian side brimming with attacking talent and flair. He hasn’t often played the champagne football the fans have yearned for, or that was expected from the attacking options at his disposal.

He’s stuck by a striker who is yet to score at this tournament and has kept more threatening players like Ousmane Demeble, Nabil Fekir and Thomas Lemar on the bench. But there’s no doubting he’s forged a formidable unit, one that has made the final.

Rating – 7/10

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Belgium Didier Deschamps France Manager in focus Tactics