World Cup v derring-do: A-side pages outside France v Belgium semi-final

Jasmine-Bernadette Fourie is reporting live from WC2:

Welcome to the World Cup semi-final between France and Belgium on Saturday, with hosts England in action in the last eight.

France have produced a blistering start to the tournament, and will need every bit of that energy to overcome a confident Belgium team that blew many an opponent away in their group stage games.

They still have some weaknesses, but would qualify for the final as group winners. Even if you were to bump them out of the pool, then you’d have a comfortable route to the tournament finale if all else fails.

Belgium also have their fans in for an afternoon of glory at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which is great for this part of south-west London. You can win the match and then just head down there after for lunch and a drink.

It could be different if they get through to the final, with some mixed feelings if that’s not a Spanish, French or English party in Russia.

Something like ‘Maybe Italy, the Three Lions or Brazil – any of them’. That’s what my friends and family will be saying and that’s probably how France will be feeling. You can’t help but have a sense of the dream deferred when things work out like this. But if they get the results they’re capable of, they’ll end up as a success.

I am going into this one as a Belgium fan. The interest in what is supposed to be a one-off game has really taken the two teams by surprise, and will be wondering what is on the cards come the end of the second half.

I first headed for Russia over six weeks ago and still feel like I’ve just come out of a rollercoaster ride.

With everything that has been happening during the summer and in recent weeks with the tournament, you can sometimes forget that it’s a game of football. Yes, there is a buzz around this tournament and it is the biggest one in many years, but it’s still just football and everyone is being positive and excited about how this is going to end up.

I came to work on Friday and walked past the park in front of Russia House in Covent Garden, which is putting on a big screening of the game – a clear sign of the build-up and the optimism.


The bar outside is buzzing and you can’t go inside, except there’s one large plasma screen at the front and another smaller screen in the middle with enough space to fill a small living room, so it is always full.

Russia House is selling food and drinks and it is just jam-packed. I think the French fans are a bit shy of their boys and I think it’s pretty funny how their fans sit outside in the heat without seeing any of the action.

Wherever they choose to watch, they will be cheering.

Teams Leaning to England Belgium France

Need a good cuppa before kickoff? What about a refreshing box of ginger beer?

Belgium: Thierry Henry’s former Arsenal team-mate Thomas Meunier lines up alongside the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne

France: Didier Deschamps’ defence is being led by his two stalwarts – Didier Drogba (left) and Sergio Ramos

Those people drink beer straight out of the can and chomp on their sandwiches instead of takeaways, like in England and America.

They have a lot of pubs, but some of the night spots are expensive. It’s all-you-can-eat for around £5-£6 a head, but is even cheaper to buy a pint here for a couple of euros (£1.10-£1.20).

So now I am reliving the excitement of football, moments before realising that it is actually still football and that I have to go to work after the match ends.

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