France Emerge Victorious over Toothless Belgium

by Ben Ayuko

{image by AFP}

France and Belgium duked it out for a spot in the Euro 2024 quarter finals.

Or at least, that’s what it was supposed to be. Truly it was a long-drawn-out affair in which neither team really possessed the quality to finish the job on the day. Chance after chance, they missed and missed. Of a total of 24 shots between the 2 sides (more from the French), only 4 were on target. And they were relatively routine saves.

In the 2nd half, France really upped the pressure. Suffocating Belgium in their own box looking for a way in. Chance after chance fell for French forward Marcus Thuram, but he couldn’t compose himself enough to take any of them. This led to French manager Didier Deschamps, making a change, bringing in the prospect Kolo Muani. 

He, combining with French talisman Kylian Mbappe, did their best to stabilize the Belgian defense, but couldn’t get any change. On the other end of the pitch, Belgian Centre forward, Romelu Lukaku, struggled to influence the game, in part because of the new formation Belgium adopted for this game, pushing Belgian talisman, Kevin de Bruyne deeper into midfield and further from the attacking line. They only linked up once, after a formation change pushed de Bruyne higher up the pitch. Lukaku held off the defender with his noteable strength and teed up de Bruyne from the edge of the box. His shot drew a decent save from the keeper.

Just as it started to seem like the game was destined for extra time, and possibly penalties, the deadlock was broken. After receiving a pass from the returning N’golo Kante, substitute Kolo Muani spun around inside the box onto his right foot, looking to send a pass across goal, presumably looking for Mbappe. However, the pass deflected violently off of Belgian Centre back, Jan Vertonghen, and bounced over the helpless Belgian Goalkeeper, Koen Casteels, who had dived for the ball’s initial trajectory in anticipation.

Belgian left winger Jérémy Doku had a good game up against French right back Jules Koundé. Their battle was the best part of the game as they constantly sized each other up and tested each other’s limits. With France having won the game, Koundé was the one chosen for the Man of the Match award.

1-0, the game ended, with France securing their spot in the quarterfinals, and with Belgium sent packing with a feeling that they may have had more to offer.

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