By Christian Smith
In a World Cup filled with exciting comebacks and a record-breaking number of matches decided by penalty kicks, all it took for France to best a high-scoring Belgian team was a single goal.
Center back Samuel Umtiti put France on the board in the 51st minute with a header off of a corner, and the team managed to hold that narrow lead for the last 40 minutes and change.
Statistically speaking, France had Belgium's number when it came to taking shots for most of the game. Les Bleus fired off 16 shots to Belgium's 9, which is consistent with the team's shot count throughout the tournament. That evenness is why France is the team to beat in the mind of Jeffrey Marcus, publisher of the World Cup newsletter "The Banter."
"Even when things don't exactly go Les Bleus' way, these young hardworking players get impressive results," Marcus said in Tuesday's edition of "The Banter."
Belgium was plagued by fouls throughout the match, racking up 16, including three yellow cards. France on the other hand ended the game with just six fouls and two yellow cards.
Croatia takes on England in the tournament's second semifinal match Wednesday at 2 pm ET. The winner will challenge France in Sunday's final.
The loser of that match will battle Belgium for third place in the consolation match Saturday.
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