Seven Blues reach World Cup semis

An entire team of young players made a decision to take part in the challenge during a training session, all collapsing to the floor in a heap in unison and then rolling around on the floor to imitate the most expensive plater in history. The youngest teams in the knockout round, they've proved that youthful exuberance is a mighty force, too.

We did not subscribe to all of this drama when we committed our time to follow the action in Russian Federation, at least not knowingly. We know there are going to be hard moments, and we'll have to be ready to suffer.

Indeed, they lined up against Belgium with opposition boss Roberto Martinez not well-recognised for his tactical prowess, but it was there they would meet their downfall and a shock exit from the World Cup. "We've been able to win in both roles".

Defender Umtiti headed home a corner from Antoine Griezmann in the 51st minute to settle the all-European tie, booking Les Bleus a trip to Moscow and a clash against either Croatia or England.

Belgium were lucky to squeeze past Brazil 2-1 in a thrilling match in Kazan on Friday.

France welcome back Blaise Matuidi, who returns after serving a suspension of his own during his side's 2-0 win against Uruguay in the quarter-finals.

Brazil's next tournament is the Copa America at home next year.

"We are going to give everything we can to beat France".

But they're out, leaving the odd quartet of France, Belgium, Croatia and England.

Despite controlling 57% of possession and having a 26-8 edge in attempts at goal, Brazil's tournament ends in the quarter-finals for the third time in the last four World Cups. What was Neymar up to at this World Cup? No host nation has won the World Cup since France in 1998.

Neymar scored just two goals in the World Cup before Belgium sent them packing from the tournament.

Another indication of the winds of change: Among those taking their place is Belgium, which has never won the title but looks capable of doing so after reaching the semis for only the second time.

Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 14 goals in his last 14 games for Belgium (8 goals, 6 assists). The centre-forward has four goals to his name from the group stage, following doubles against both Panama and Tunisia, and his clever dummy allowed Nacer Chadli to bag a dramatic victor against Japan in the last 16.

  • Angelo Rivera