France and Belgium contest the first of this year’s two World Cup semi-finals today as England potentially find out their final opponents if they make it past Croatia on Wednesday.
In truth, the winner of today’s game will likely be the strong favourite to go all the way in the competition as they look by far the strongest sides on paper, even if momentum is with England right now.
The Three Lions should continue to play without fear as they have done so well under Gareth Southgate at this tournament, but there’s no doubting the huge amount of talent in both the French and Belgian squads.
Here’s our combined XI of the two sides just to illustrate the world class ability we’re going to see on show tonight, with plenty of big names from the Premier League involved…
GK: Thibaut Courtois
It’s a close call between Thibaut Courtois and Hugo Lloris, but we think the Belgian has just edged it so far and is one of three Chelsea players in this combined XI.
CB: Toby Alderweireld
A rock for Tottenham for a number of years now, Toby Alderweireld is another Belgium star to make the team after a strong showing at this summer’s World Cup.
CB: Raphael Varane
Not always a regular for Real Madrid, but Raphael Varane has been solid for France this summer and deserves to make our combined XI here.
RB: Benjamin Pavard
A superb young talent who’s really announced himself at this summer’s competition in Russia, one imagines Benjamin Pavard will be snapped up by a top club before too long as he could still have a decisive impact on the destination of the World Cup.
LB: Jan Vertonghen
Usually a centre-back for Spurs, Jan Vertonghen has had a great tournament at left-back for Belgium so that’s where we’re putting him in our line up.
CM: N’Golo Kante
A world class defensive midfielder, N’Golo Kante has done the business for Chelsea and Leicester City in his time in the Premier League, and he’s become a key player for France as well.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne
There’s no room, however, for Kante’s French midfield partner Paul Pogba, with Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne edging in after a superb tournament that has followed an immense season for Premier League champions Manchester City.
AM: Eden Hazard
Our third and final Chelsea player to make the XI, Eden Hazard has truly shone on the biggest stage this summer with some masterful attacking midfield displays, making him an easy pick here.
AM: Antoine Griezmann
A star for Atletico Madrid and France’s stand-out performer at Euro 2016, Antoine Griezmann is having another fine tournament and could be decisive in his country’s chances of winning the World Cup for the second time in their history.
AM: Kylian Mbappe
One of the very best young players on the planet, 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe is showing he’s the real deal by storming it on the international stage, with the PSG forward looking particularly lethal as Les Bleus won a 4-3 thriller against Argentina in the last 16.
CF: Romelu Lukaku
Leading the line is Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, who is also proving something of a point at this summer’s World Cup by bossing it for Belgium, and showing himself to be a real leader in their squad with his inspirational team talks on the pitch.