Former champions France face Belgium in a mouth-watering semi-final of Fifa World Cup 2018 at the St Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday, July 10
There is quite a lot of hype around the first semi-final as there is nothing much to separate the two sides, who have by far looked the most menacing in the ongoing edition of the quadrennial tournament.
Third-ranked Belgium, after having been knocked out in the final rounds over the last few years, would be confident after having dumped out five-time champions Brazil in the quarter-final last week.
While the attack and midfield have been excellent throughout the tournament, the back three of Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld and Vertonghen came up with their best against the Selecao in their 2-1 win.
Who will replace Meunier?
Coach Roberto Martinez to inspire Belgium into their first-ever World Cup final but the absence of winger Thomas Meunier who has been suspended is a cause for concern as they 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.
Martinez may also switch to a 4-4-2 formation with Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku upfront but Marouane Fellaini's showings in the last two matches make him a strong candidate for a starting spot.
Will Blaise Matuidi start?
On the other hand, France have switched gears in the knockout rounds. The Les Blues are heading into the match after a comfortable 2-0 win over an Edinson Cavani-less Uruguayan side in the quarter-final.
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 Didier Deschamps will be willing to drop in-form Corentin Tolisso to the bench to accommodate the Juventus midfielder, who was replaced at the 80-minute mark in the quarter-final as Uruguay didn't seem like making a comeback.
Probable starting XIs
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld; Yannick Carrasco, Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini, Nacer Chadli; Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku.
France: Hugo Lloris; Lucas Hernandez, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Benjamin Pavard; Ngolo Kante, Paul Pogba; Corentin Tolisso, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe; Olivier Giroud.