France's flexibility crucial to Les Bleus' dreams of winning the World Cup, says Antoine Griezmann

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Antoine Griezmann believes France‘s flexibility will be crucial to their hopes of winning a second World Cup title.

France’s 2-0 quarter-final win over Uruguay set up a semi-final against the winners of Friday’s second game, Brazil and Belgium, and the European neighbours will meet in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday with a place in next Sunday’s final at stake.

The Atletico Madrid star scored one goal and set up another during the last-eight match in Nizhny Novgorod and was named man of the match for the second time at Russia 2018.

France largely controlled the game but only managed two shots on target and there was a hint of criticism of the team’s tactics in the post-match press conference, particularly as this more defensive-minded display came after the excitement of their 4-3 victory over Argentina in the previous round.

But Griezmann said France were mindful of Uruguay’s threat and had more than one way of winning a game.

“I don’t think we have a style that is set,” the 27-year-old said.

“We observe what happens during the match and we have people who know how to manage the game, they know when to stop and when to move in attack.

“When I have the ball, I try to take the game to where we want it to be.”

His coach Didier Deschamps echoed this sentiment, saying his team had been disciplined and strong in defence, but admitted that his side “can play better”, especially in attack.

France’s first goal came when Raphael Varane rose highest to meet Griezmann’s free-kick with a glancing header.

Speaking to reporters after the game, the Real Madrid centre-back, who has been one of the best defenders at the tournament, said: “We knew that set-pieces were their strong point but this time it was ours.”

France’s second goal just after the hour, Griezmann’s third in Russia, was the result of a terrible mistake by Uruguay’s usually dependable Fernando Muslera.

The France striker shot powerfully from 25 yards out but it was right at the goalkeeper and should have been a straightforward save. But he appeared to be unsure whether to catch it or punch it away and ended up doing neither.

His coach Oscar Tabarez refused to blame him after the game, saying: “I told all my players after the match that they can be very proud and to keep their heads high.

The usually reliable Fernando Muslera committed a howler for Griezmann's goal.

The usually reliable Fernando Muslera committed a howler for Griezmann’s goal.

“We all saw that it was not a very common goal but Muslera has been a very important pillar in all our work up until now.”

The goal’s significance was indisputable, though, as Uruguay had started the second half well.

France left-back Lucas Hernandez, another Atletico Madrid player, said: “The second goal killed them mentally and we knew we had a place in the semi-final in hand.”

The 71-year-old Tabarez has been in charge of Uruguay since 2006 and while he was clearly disappointed with the result, he dismissed suggestions that it represented anything more significant than one team losing to another that played better on the day.

“There is no need to be overly dramatic about it, the better team won but Uruguay is still one of the most important football nations and what happened today does not change that,” he said.

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Kevin De Bruyne says Belgium are on a once-in-a-lifetime journey and they plan on extending it

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Belgium are on a once-in-a-lifetime journey that they plan on extending, according to Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City man scored a stunning goal as the Red Devils beat tournament favourites Brazil 2-1 to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.

A Tuesday date with France now stands between them and a first ever final, the current squad having matched the exploits of their 1986 countrymen.

This particular group of Belgian players have long been talked up and De Bruyne has his eyes set on making the most of this opportunity.

“We have achieved something that is really beautiful and not easy,” he said.

“We are proud to reach the semi-finals and will do our utmost to win that match. We are in the top four and are happy, but once you’re that close you want to do everything you can.

KevinDeBruyneBelgium

“Only a few times in your lifetime (can you come to a World Cup), you might go to two or three in a lifetime if you’re lucky. We will do all we can and hopefully we can give you some nice images of Belgium.

“We are going to give everything we can to beat France.”

For all their critics, France have moved into the last four with a minimum of fuss, ruthlessly disposing of Uruguay on Friday.

De Bruyne knows how dangerous they are and is taking little for granted.

“It’s an extraordinary team (France) but when you reach the semi-finals of a World Cup you’re never going to find ordinary opposition,” he said.

“Thirty-two teams (started out), they all know how to play football.

Roberto Martinez speaks

“We are on an equal footing with France, we will try and do everything we can physically and mentally. That’s all we can do. At the end, you do all you can to win and if they’re better, they’re better. That’s football.”

Belgium’s progress represents more success for boss Roberto Martinez, who left Everton two years ago to mixed reviews.

He and Thierry Henry are getting the best out of this ultra-talented Belgian squad and he admitted to finding the one thing he had been missing from club football – a human touch.

“The game, the last five minutes, I felt we could lose a lot and the players did not deserve it,” he said.

“Brazil need 30 seconds to score a goal and then 20 for another. The players had a look in their eye that they believed in each other. We showed experience, calmness and a real togetherness.

“The only thing I miss about club football is that you don’t always get the human beings behind the footballers. Today, it was the human beings. They care about being ambassadors of Belgian football.

“That makes everything worth it, I hope everyone in Belgium realises this generation is special and everything they did is to make them proud. It’s time to celebrate back home.”

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Watch: Belgium fans react following their quarter-final win against Brazil

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It was a moment to savour for Belgium

Belgium produced a masterclass to beat five-time champions Brazil and enter the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1986.

A Fernandinho own goal and Kevin De Bruyne’s superb first-half strike sealed a deserved 2-1 win on Friday night and will now play 1998 winners France on Tuesday night.

Unsurprisingly, Belgian fans were thrilled with the result with some even admitting they didn’t expect to beat Brazil.

Watch what the Belgian supporters said below:

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