Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium)


N’Golo Kante (rancE)

De Bruyne is one of the most astute passers of the ball in the game, and one of its best long-range marksmen. Brazil simply could not cope with him in the first half of their quarter-final. On Tuesday, however, he will come up against one of the world’s best defensive midfielders in a battle that could go a long way to deciding the outcome. Kante covers a remarkable amount of ground, his reading of the game is exceptional, and he is unlikely to be pulled around by De Bruyne in the same way that Fernandinho was in the quarter-final.

Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)


Raphael Varane (rancE)

France have conceded only three goals on the way to the semi-finals, and the central defensive player Raphael Varne snuffed out the air from attacking threat of Luis Suarez in the quarter-final against Uruguay, barely allowing him a touch in the penalty area. They will now aim to stop Lukaku adding to his tally of four goals in the event. The powerful striker has proved a handful, not just for his goals but also for his role as a target man and in opening up space for Eden Hazard and De Bruyne that paid off for his team asthey overcame a Japan challenge and stunned Brazil.

Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)


Kylian Mbappe (rancE)

As the left-sided player in Belgium’s three-man defence, Jan Vertonghen is likely to find himself as the man tasked with stopping French teenager Kylian Mbappe. Vertonghen is an experienced campaigner and seen as one of Belgium’s most dependable players. But Mbappe’s powerful runs from midfield destroyed Argentina in the second round, and his pace is likely to stretch the 31-year-old Vertonghen to the limit. Mbappe has set the record for fastest sprint so far in the event against Argentina and his young legs would be real challenge for the Belgian veteran.

Eden Hazard (Belgium)


Benjamin Pavard (rancE)

Belgium captain Eden Hazard has arguably been the outstanding player of the tournament and pulled Brazil and their right back Fagner around the field in their quarter-final. France right back Pavard, 22, was a surprise inclusion in their squad, but he has had an excellent World Cup so far, capped by him scoring one of the goals of the tournament in the 4-2 win over Argentina. He now faces his biggest test so far in trying to stop the Belgian number 10. Hazard’s attitude on the pitch and ability to execute team’s plans would be crucial for Belgium success.