World Cup 2018: Blaise Matuidi returns for France, Belgium draft in Mousa Dembele
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has picked Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele to replace Thomas Meunier for the World Cup semifinal against France.
Martinez has been forced to reshuffle his back line after Paris Saint-Germain wing back Meunier was suspended for the match in St. Petersburg after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament in Belgium’s 2-1 quarterfinal win over Brazil.
After using a four-man defense against Brazil, Martinez has reverted to a three-man backline and four-man midfield of Nacer Chadli on the left, Dembele on the right, and Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel in the middle.
Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne make up a potent three-man attack.
Dembele’s inclusion was the only change to the Belgium team that beat Brazil 2-1 in the quarterfinals.
France coach Didier Deschamps has recalled Blaise Matuidi in the only change to his lineup for the World Cup semifinal against Belgium at St. Petersburg Stadium.
Matuidi, who was suspended for the 2-0 quarterfinal win over Uruguay last Friday, comes into midfield to replace Corentin Tolisso.
Veteran striker Olivier Giroud hasn’t scored yet in the tournament but needs one goal to move ahead of France great Zinedine Zidane on France’s all-time list. Giroud keeps his place in a forward line featuring 19-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
Hugo Lloris (capt); Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez; Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante; Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi; Olivier Giroud
Coach: Didier Deschamps (FRA)
Thibaut Courtois; Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen; Mousa Dembele, Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel, Nacer Chadli; Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard (capt)