On Tuesday, France ended their hopes of glory at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and “that’s football!” goes the saying, one that reflects the resigned air of Belgium’s Red Devils. Their reaction could be perceived as a type of defence mechanism, a way of keeping the sadness and despair they felt at their narrow 1-0 semi-final defeat at bay.
Midfielder Kevin de Bruyne said: “It was literally 50/50. We knew it was going to come down to the little details, and it was a corner that made the difference [which Samuel Umtiti scored from].”
Despite completing 594 passes, more than 91% of which were successful, to France’s 345, and enjoying nearly 64 % possession, Belgium only managed three on-target attempts on Hugo Lloris’ goal.
For the most prolific attack of Russia 2018, it was the worst possible time for the most prolific attack of Russia 2018 to lose their touch in front of goal, their threat blunted by a defensive wall expertly constructed by Didier Deschamps. “We did everything we could to test them, but it just wasn’t meant to be today,” said the Belgian playmaker. “That’s how football goes, and when you feel you’ve done all you can then you just have to accept it.”
De Bruyne said: “We did what we had to do. I’m proud of the way we performed and of our World Cup. France maybe played a little defensively but the beauty of football is that you can choose the way you want to play. I respect that. We feel we’ve given our all and we need to focus on the positives.”
On Saturday they will set about securing third place, which would be the country’s best ever World Cup placing. Making that objective clear, De Bruyne said: “We’ve got just one wish now: to win a sixth match in Russia so we can go away on holiday even more at peace with ourselves.”
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