With talent abundant in both the French and Belgian sides, the upcoming World Cup semi-final clash promises to be another spectacle. Nevertheless, while the outfield players will be keen to exhibit their prowess, they will hope that their side’s last line of defense will stay on top of their games as well.
For Belgium, this will mean that Thibaut Courtois will have to do what’s done for the most part of the competition. Standing at 199cm tall, the 26-year-old Chelsea shot-stopper has been the backbone of the Red Devils’ 100 percent win record at Russia 2018.
Prior to the knockout stages, Courtois conceded just two goals in three games after his teammates had found the back of the net on nine separate occasions. Against Japan at the Round of 16, the former Atletico Madrid goalie was on the receiving end of two well-executed strikes but was spared unnecessary criticisms after his teammates instigated a miraculous comeback to seal a 3-2 win.
Geared up by the momentous win, Courtois saved his country’s dream campaign at the tournament by tipping Neymar’s goal-bound long-range effort over the bar in dying embers of the 2-1 victory over Brazil. With a goal per game concession rate, and averaging 3.5 saves per game with a 75% accuracy, Thibaut Courtois enters Tuesday’s crunch semi-final clash as the safest pair of hands ahead of his nemesis Hugo Lloris.
The Tottenham Hotspur goal warden, despite pulling off some massive saves for Les Bleus, has so far averaged two saves per game with a 67% accuracy. Just as Courtois, the 31-year-old has averaged twoclean sheets but he edges the Belgian in terms of goals conceded having picked the ball out of his net on four occasions.
Against a highly efficient attack, Lloris has proved to be poor as three of the goals he’s conceded so far game in the Round of 16 clash against Argentina. As a result, it will be interesting how he will fare coming up against a Belgian side that tops the ranking s as the highest scoring side at the tournament with 14 goals.
A performance reminiscent to the one against Uruguay should do the trick but with Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku pulling the strings upfront this time around, a lot more will be required of Les Bleus’ skipper.