Kevin de Bruyne and Ferjani Sassi are just one of our key match-ups as Belgium take on Tunisia

Alex Broun 21/06/2018
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Will Kevin de Bruyne show his true class against Tunisia?

The Red Devils of Belgium take on the Eagles of Carthage from Tunisia on Saturday at 16:00 (UAE time) at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.

A win for Belgium in their Group G clash would guarantee their place in the knockout stages while Tunisia are fighting desperately just to stay alive in the tournament.

Here are our key player match ups.

Wahbi Khazri (r) battles hard against John Stones

Wahbi Khazri (r) battles hard against John Stones

Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) v Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia)

The Manchester United marksmen scored twice in the 3-0 victory over Panama and one more goal will make him the top-scoring Belgian in major tournaments: Lukaku has five, just one behind Jan Ceulemans.

With service provided by playmakers like Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne, Lukaku’s job is much easier than Wahbi Khazri from the Eagles of Carthage.

The all-action midfielder was not able to influence the game the way he would have liked against England due to a lack of possession but will again be tasked with dictating the Tunisia attack.

Syam Ben Youssef (L) kept Raheem Sterling in check

Syam Ben Youssef (L) kept Raheem Sterling in check

Dedryck Boyata (Belgium) v Syam Ben Youssef (Tunisia)

Ben Youssef was outstanding against England and no one did more than the Kasimpasa centre half to earn Tunisia what looked like a well-deserved draw.

He constantly thwarted England’s raids with a game high four tackles. He was also outstanding in getting things re-started from the back with a 88% success pass rate – 21 accurate passes out of a total of 26.

Filling in for the injured Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, Dedryck Boyata will keep his place in central defence for the Red Devils. Boyata was solid against Panama winning a game high eight aerial duals and a total of 93 touches. Tunisia must get through him to score.

Ferjani Sassi slotted his penalty home coolly against England

Ferjani Sassi slotted his penalty home coolly against England

Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium) v Ferjani Sassi (Tunisia)

The world is waiting, holding its breath, for Belgium wizard de Bruyne to perform the way he can on the World Cup stage. The Manchester City superstar had a tepid game against Panama by his lofty standards.

He had three shots at goal, with just one on target, a pass success rate of just 78% (57 accurate passes from a total of 73) but he did create four chances with one neatly converted by Lukaku, for a solitary assist.

Sassi for his part was at his very best against England, with two shots on target, two tackles and a coolly slotted penalty. Tunisia again will need a double shift from the Al Nassr midfielder.

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Kylian Mbappe nets winner for France as Les Bleus seal passage to knockout phase

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Kylian Mbappe became the 12th youngest goalscorer in World Cup history.

Kylian Mbappe fired unconvincing France into the World Cup 2018 knockout stages after a nervy 1-0 win over plucky Peru.

The Paris St Germain forward scored his first goal in Russia to give Didier Deschamps’ side victory at the Central Stadium in Yekaterinburg.

Pedro Aquino hit the post for lively Peru, who are still waiting for their first World Cup win since 1978, and the South American side can no longer qualify from Group C.

France are top of the group after the second round of matches, two points ahead of Denmark and five in front of third-placed Australia, meaning they will now progress.

They face Denmark in their final game to determine who will top the group, while the Danes need just a point to progress.

But France were run close by Peru who dominated possession for long spells without seriously testing Hugo Lloris.

Peru made a quick start, putting the 1998 champions under pressure, and Lloris – on his 100th appearance for France – was almost embarrassed when Yoshimar Yotun’s lob from the half-way line dropped over the crossbar.

Peru’s tempo and pressing left France on edge but Antoine Griezmann did seize on a ricochet yet sliced well wide after 11 minutes.

Paul Pogba then had Pedro Gallese scrambling when his 25-yard effort bounced just wide and Griezmann combined with Olivier Giroud but his sharp volley was blocked by the Peru goalkeeper.

France had found their footing but Peru wasted the best opening of the game through Paolo Guerrero in the 31st minute.

The country’s 35-goal record scorer collected the ball, took it past Samuel Umtiti but could only drive at Lloris with just the keeper to beat.

And it was a miss Peru were left to rue when Mbappe won the game three minutes later.

The forward had already miscued a volley when Giroud’s effort looped over Gallese and into Mbappe’s path for an easy tap-in.

It rocked Peru and Lucas Hernandez forced Gallese into a smart stop before scuffing his follow-up as France threatened to put the game out of sight.

France have never lost a World Cup game when leading at half-time but Aquino nearly pegged them back five minutes after the break.

The Peru midfielder received the ball 30 yards out and his swerving drive clattered off the top of the post.

It was a warning for France as Peru began the second half as they had started the first, playing with a high tempo and forcing their rivals back.

France were nervy having failed to build on their lead and Peru continued to push forward, yet failed to find a clear opening.

Jefferson Farfan hit the side netting with 17 minutes left as Ricardo Gareca’s side began to run out of time to save their World Cup dream.

They continued to press and while Guerrero’s free-kick tested Lloris with three minutes left, Peru failed to find an equaliser.

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France player ratings v Peru as Giroud and Kante get 8s, Matuidi struggles to impress

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Kylian Mbappe is mobbed after first-half winner.

France secured their passage out of the group stages with a second-successive World Cup 2018 win, this time over Peru on Thursday night.

Les Bleus managed to keep game opponents at arm’s length throughout large parts of the contest at Ekaterinburg Arena and sit atop of Group F.

Here, we rate Didier Deschamps’ men following their second World Cup 2018 match.

France 4-3-3

Hugo Lloris – 7: Became seventh France player to reach a century of caps and marked it with fine low first-half stop to deny Peru talisman Paolo Guerrero.

Benjamin Pavard – 5: The Bundesliga-based star is still learning the ropes at right-back and looks like the weak link in this line-up, especially against better sides.

Raphael Varane – 6: Excellent run and climb to meet Griezmann corner on 15 minutes, would have been disappointed not to score. Otherwise resolute, tidy and nonplussed in defence.

Samuel Umtiti – 7: Barcelona man took a heavy knock in the second period but carried on and put his body on the line for the cause. Solid.

Lucas Hernandez – 5: Left-back flew forward down the flank but spurned two golden opportunities to score towards end of first-half. Still needs to work on defensive positioning.

Paul Pogba – 7: Superb effort in 12th minute and was commanding in a dominant display. Nipped in superbly to break up possession and set France on their way to scoring first goal.

N’Golo Kante – 8: France’s marathon man didn’t put a foot wrong in the middle of the park and was on hand to sweep up everything.

Blaise Matuidi – 5: Booked early on. Covered for Hernandez’s forward forays down the left but overall inclusion in this side is still up for debate.

Antoine Griezmann – 6: Spurned early chance from angle when should have struck across goal. Played too deep at times and needed to be further forward to feed off Giroud. Subbed off with 10 minutes to go.

Kylian Mbappe – 6: Guilty of over-playing and loosing possession all too often and is still learning his trade out wide. Showed clinical movement and predatory instincts though to turn in Giroud’s shot.

Olivier Giroud – 8: His sheer presence gave France a much-needed focal point and more balance to this line-up. Had a hand in the goal and always kept opponents occupied.

Substitutes

Ousmane Dembele – 5: Dropped from starting XI and entered the fray with 15 minutes to go for Mbappe. Snatched at one opportunity when more composure was needed.

Nabil Fekir – 5: Had little time to have an affect on the game.

Steven Nzonzi – 5: Brought on late for Pogba for his first World Cup appearance but limited time left on clock gave him no time to do anything.

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