Hello and welcome to the live updates of Fifa World Cup 2018 semi-final between France and Belgium from St. Petersburg.
Roberto Martinez lauds the Red Devils, hopes to finish on a high
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez is proud of his boys despite the frustrating defeat in the semi-final.
"Unfortunately for us the difference was a dead-ball situation. The game was very close, very tight. It was going to be decided by whoever could find that final touch in the box or a bit of luck in front of goal. The effort from the players was magnificent, I couldn't ask for more," Matinez said.
"In football you have to understand there are winners and losers but if you are going to lose, you do it while giving everything ... Now we need to get rid of this disappointment and make sure we finish on a high."
Full-time: France book a place in the final!
France hold on to their one-goal lead in St. Petersburg. They will now play the big final on Sunday in Moscow. Meanwhile, Belgium can afford to stay back for the third-place match on Saturday.
France found an unlikely hero in Samuel Umtiti as the Barcelona defender headed in the only goal of the match in the second half.
The Les Blues brought in all their experience to deny Belgium the equaliser after they went ahead in the 51st minute. Raphael Varane & Co. were solid even as Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens threatened them.
Romelu Lukaku had an off day but Belgium tried their best. They had a good start but France were the more resilient of the two on the big day.
90 min: Six minutes of added time here
Belgium are staring at the exit door, France at another World Cup final.
Nonetheless, the Red Devils are pressing hard for the equaliser. Kevin de Bruyne put a peach of a ball to find Lukaku inside the box. The Manchester United man was not able to get there.
85 min: Olivier Giroud comes off for France
France make their first change of the night. Olivier Giroud comes off and he is yet to score a goal in the World Cup. Midfielder Steven Nzonzi is the man who replaces the Chelsea man.
Another change for France. Matuidi, who takes a knock outside their box, is replaced by Tolisso.
80 min: Fellaini comes off for France
Martinez replaces Fellaini with Carrasco as Belgium are desperately looking for the equaliser. France are defending their lead wonderfully well here.
However, Belgium captain Eden Hazard is hard done by the referee. A clear foul on him by Olivier Giroud just at the edge of the box was not given. The Chelsea man stayed down for a while only to see their attack end in vain.
75 min: It remains 1-0 in St Petersburg
Belgium are entering a zone where the pressure will increase with every passing minute until they find the equaliser. Mertens' addition has added some firepower but France are sitting deep and fending off threats well.
Meanwhile, de Bruyne fires one way off the target from outside the box.
66 min: Mertens is making an early impact!
Dries Mertens' first touch was a brilliant cross that almost produced a goal for Belgium. His second tested Lloris while his third found Fellaini inside the box. The Manchester United man came up with a strong header but it went just wide off the post.
60 min: Belgium make a change!
Dembele comes off for the Red Devils as Roberto Martinez brings on Mertens.
Meanwhile, France have had the upper-hand in the second half so far. There are stitching some wonderful passages of play. Mbappe came up with a lovely backheel to play in Giroud, who looks to slot one in. But Dembele makes a crucial save.
51 min: GOAL! France take the lead
It's just six minutes into the second half and against the run of play, France take the lead. A perfectly curled in cross from Antoine Griezmann and Samuel Umtiti makes no mistake from the near post.
Olivier Giroud won the corner for France by making a swift turn inside the box and taking a shot after Blaise Matuidi made a good run into the box.
It's FRA 1-0 BEL.
46 min: The second half is underway
Who will break the deadlock here? What has Deschamps and Martinez told their respective teams. Paul Pogba is having an extended chat with the former even as other players have taken their positions. He sprints back before the referee signals the start of the second half.
Half-time: FRA 0-0 BEL
An entertaining half but it ends goalless. Belgium had a nervous moment in the added minute as Umtiti failed to clear de Bruyne's cross from the right. The ball hit Lukaku's body right in front of goal but the Manchester United forward wasn't anticipating that one at all.
Belgium started on a high, maintaining a lot of possession and creating chances in the first 20 minutes of the first-half. Hugo Lloris' effort was needed to keep it 0-0. Hazard and de Bruyne are showcasing their class.
France, who were threatening on the counter, dominated the last 20 minutes and looked more like breaking the deadlock. Pavard had the best chance but Courtois made a brilliant save to deny the French defender.
43 min: Free-kick for France
Paul Pogba was fouled at the edge of the box and France had another good opportunity to take the left. However, Antoine Griezmann hits it straight into the Belgian wall with his left foot.
39 min: Courtois denies France the lead
France are slowly, but steadily clawing back into this one. On the break, Mbappe slips one to Pavard who takes a shot from the left. Courtois gets a crucial touch, with his leg and the ball goes for a corner.
36 min: Giroud goes down clutching his calf
Against the run of play, France manufacture a counter with Griezmann making the run down the center. He takes the shot, a weak one which goes well wide of the post.
Belgium are probing. With Hazard and de Bruyne making the runs and putting the crosses, France have a few nervous moments at the back.
21 min: France are under some pressure here
Belgium are looking threatening. Eden Hazard seems to be in the mood here. 58 percent possession and four corners already.
Hugo Lloris and Raphael Varane have seen a lot of action already. Vertonghen came closest to put Belgium in the lead when he swirled and shot from inside the box only to see the French custodian tipping it for a corner.
12 min: It's 0-0 in St Petersburg
What a start to the semi-final. Both teams are keen on getting the first goal, given their counter-attacking capabilities.
Belgium are having quite a lot of possession and they are winning the balls back in no time as well. Chadli had some early involvement as he was putting the balls into the box from the right.
Pogba tries to find Mbappe with a long ball and the teenager springs forward only to see Courtois come out of his position and avert the danger.
1 min: Mbappe gets going straightaway
A lot has been said about the teenage wonder of France — Kylian Mbappe. The Paris Saint-Germain forward is straightaway into action. He makes a blistering run down the left and fires a low cross into the box, hoping to find a blue shirt. Belgium avert early damage by clearing the ball long.
Mbappe, who decimated Argentina with his pace and a double, has already sent a warning notice.
The national anthems are being played
We begin with France's national anthem. There are some tense faces on the turf.
Meanwhile, the television cameras are showing Thierry Henry, the assistant coach of Belgium, greeting France boss Didier Deschamps. The two had been teammates when France lifted the World Cup in 1998.
Henry will now be plotting his birth country's downfall. Professional commitment!
We're minutes away from the big semi-final tie
Both teams are at the tunnel, waiting to enter the turf. The St. Petersburg stadium is packed to the rafters, as expected.
What do you make of the two teams? Will Roberto Martinez's exciting experiment work? We will know over the next 90 minutes.
The confirmed lineups are here
One change for France as Didier Deschamps plays it safe. Matuidi, who returns from his one-match suspension, replaces Tolisso.
On the other hand, Roberto Martinez has made some bold changes to cope up with the absence of suspended Meunier.
Chadli retains his place while Mousa Dembele joins a five-man Red Devils' midfield.
France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kanté, Pogba, Matuidi; Mbapé, Giroud, Griezmann.
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Chadli, Witsel, Dembélé, Fellaini, Hazard; Lukaku, De Bruyne.
The biggest news of the day is here!
Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has signed for Juventus from Real Madrid, the La Liga club said in a statement on Tuesday, July 10.
The Spanish side haven't revealed the transfer details but Juventus has agreed on €100m fee with them for Ronaldo, according to the Guardian. The 33-year-old is signing a four-year deal with the Serie A giants for an annual salary of around €30m.
Matuidi returns for France, Belgium miss Meunier
Blaise Matuidi returns after facing a one-match suspension that saw him miss the one-sided last-eight match.
However, it remains to be seen if Deschamps will be willing to drop in-form Corentin Tolisso to the bench to accommodate the Juventus midfielder.
The absence of winger Thomas Meunier who has been suspended is a cause for concern as Belgium have no direct replacement for the Paris Saint-German star.
Nacer Chadli, the hero of their thrilling comeback-from-behind win over Japan, may switch to the right while the returning Yannick Carrasco is likely to replace Meunier.
Can France live up to the hype?
Didier Deschamps' men seem to have hit peak form in the knockouts as they have already dispatched Argentina (4-3) and Uruguay (2-0) with back-to-back dominant displays.
While all eyes will be on young Kylian Mbappe who single-handedly destroyed the Argentine backline during their Round of 16 meeting, France have quite a few superstars names in their young squad, capable of delivering on the big stage.
Belgium eyeing historic final
Both France and Belgium have been mighty impressive at the World Cup and it is safe to say that the upcoming clash is worthy of a final.
Belgium have reached the semi-final of the quadrennial tournament for the first time since 1986. Roberto Martinez has managed to successfully make the Red Devils greater than the sum of its masses as they have performed collectively well in Russia.
The 2-1 disposal of five-time champions Brazil in the quarter-final would have given the Eden Hazard & Co. a lot of confidence.
With some of the most lethal forwards and midfielders in the line-up, Belgium will be hoping to take another step towards realising their dream later today.
The mood in the Belgian camp seems to be upbeat.