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August 14, 2013
• Stade Roi Baudouin, Bruxelles (Brussel)
Referee: C. Thomson
• Attendance: 41733
That is it from Brussels then and me Harry Slavin. France have now failed to score in over six hours of international football. Belgium have yet to truly convince they are in the top bracket for international football. Be sure to check out ratings for both sides but until next time, goodbye!
FULL-TIME BELGIUM 0-0 FRANCE. We finish as we started then with both sides unable to break the deadlock. It want for the want of trying as Courtois and Lloris provided some composed displayed. However I don't think that was quite what the crowd came to see.
90' + 2'
Unlikely as Sagna hoists a cross straight down the throat of Courtois. That really should be that folks.
Two minutes of added time for either side to snatch victory. Is there any drama loitering at the end of this one?
Into the final minute we go, Mertens swings in a late free kick but it is nodded out for a goal kick.
Yellow Card Laurent Koscielny
Koscielny is shown a late yellow for taking down Mertens. The Arsenal defender has had a decent evening, that tackle aside.
Kevin De Bruyne
GIROUD!! The Arsenal forward volleys over after Nasri's cross is deflected into his path. Still we wait. I'm losing hope it's going to come now. I suspect the sensible amongst you lost it a long time ago!
Belgium almost nick a chance to win it! Fellaini does really well to win back possession and start a counter attack. The ball is quickly played out to Mirallas who losses the ball but nicks it back of Abidal instantly. His cross though is poor and straight into the arms of Lloris with Benteke lurking.
Not that like that it won't. Substitute Etienne Capoue smashes a 25-yard effort well over the bar and into the stands. Waste.
As it stands France have currently gone six hours without netting an international goal. Can that be changed in the closing stages in Brussels?
Jelle Van Damme
Desparation beginning to set in here as both sides give up possession with needless offside calls. We've got about ten minutes left for a winner here now.
Daniel Van Buyten
Yellow Card Clément Grenier
Fellaini chests the ball down at the near post and almost squeezes the ball home between Lloris and the post. The keeper manages to glance the ball behind with his leg though for another Belgian corner.
Whatever the outcome it's not going to happen for Benzema. Or Valbuena. Or Hazard for that matter of fact. All three are replaced by Giroud, Grenier and Mertens respectively.
De Bruyne links up with Mirallas and plays the Everton striker in on goal. The newly arrived sub take one touch to control before firing high and wide. Will it happen for anyone tonight?
Tottenham new man Chadli is replaced by Kevin Mirallas for the final 20.
France look more confident after those changes. Belgium are currently sitting quite deep inviting the French onto them. Nasri and Ribery will happily accept those invitations all night.
Belgium's turn to attack now but De Bruyne is penalised for offside as he tries to tee up Chelsea team-mate Hazard.
WHAT A SAVE FROM COURTOIS!!! Ribery's cross spirals off the shin of Fellaini and straight to an unmarked Benzema. The striker controls with his thigh and looks to bury the ball in the Belgium goal but a brave smothering stop from the keeper sees the scores remain level.
Yellow Card Sebastien Pocognoli
Nasri's first taste of action in a French shirt since Euro 2012 sees him scythed down by Pocognoli on the edge of the area. Welcome back to international football Samir. Pocognoli is booked for that.
FELLAINI! The gangly midfielder nods over when picked out by Chadli as another chance goes begging for the hosts. France meanwhile make two changes as Nasri makes his way back onto the national scene with Etienne Capoue. Kondogbia and Payet are the players to make way
That will do for Lukaku's evening as well as Aston Villa's Cristian Benteke comes on for the final half hour.
How are Belgium not in front! A lovely backheel from Hazard catches the entire French back four off guard and leaves De Bruyne and Lukaku all alone in the area. The former tries to square for the latter but gets it all wrong and Lukaku is left stretching in vain at the far post as the ball whistles out of play.
A couple of crosses from Valbuena now as France threaten! The first is well read by Courtois as the keeper prevents the cross from reaching Benzema. There's nothing the Atleti man can do moments later to stop Benzema but the Real Madrid striker volleys wide after getting on the end of the cross.
Interestingly enough neither side has made a substitution. Both sides are wanting to keep their strongest side out their tonight, no place for wholesale changes.
It's heating up a bit now! Belgium have had a couple of clear openings now and Ribery is looking dangerous when France get him on the ball. Surely not long now until the Brussels crowd see nets bulging!
POST!!! Lukaku finally has sight of goals he breaks down the left channel of the penalty area and his low shot is kept out by a combination of the upright and Lloris!
Some beautiful footwork sees Ribery glide past a couple of tackles, including a cheeky meg on Toby Alderweireld. He can't add the finish though as this game still seeks it's first goal.
A mad couple of minutes from the French defence and it almost gets worse! Some fantastic hold up play from Lukaku allows him to backheel the ball into the path of the onrushing Pocognoli, but the full-back blazes wide when presented with a decent opportunity to shoot.
ANOTHER PASS HAS LLORIS IN TROUBLE!!! His defenders are certainyl keeping him on his toes here! Abdial this time is guilty of a pretty tame back pass and Lloris has to be quick to nip the ball away from Lukaku who was steaming in once more!
HORRIBLE BACK PASS FROM SAGNA! Lloris has to get his boot to that quickly with Lukaku homing in and the Tottenham shot-stopper can only scuff it behind for a corner!
The teams are back out and we are about to get back underway! Will we see the deadlock broken in the second half?
So not quite the fireworks we were expecting before kick off as both sides are struggling to find their flow. It's always a common problem for international sides around friendlies but Belgium's front three have no excuse! I wonder what Mourinho makes of the hosts lack of penetration?
HALF-TIME: BELGIUM 0-0 FRANCE. No goals but no lack of action. We've had some good chances for both sides but it's that touch of class in the final ball department that is deserting both teams at the moment.
45' + 1'
WHAT A CHANCE FOR BENZEMA!! I don't think he expected the ball back, amybe that's why he snatched at it, but Ribery has just laid a glorious chance on plate for the Real Madrid man. He can only balloon his effort over from the edge of the area though.
Into one minute of stoppage time at the end of the half we go.
Lovely from Ribery! That is twice now the Bayern man has created space in behind on the right. He tries to find Benzema in the centre for a simple tap in but some top defending sees the ball poked behind for a corner instead.
Better from France! Dmitri Payet has a clever exchange of passes with Clichy as he ghosts over to the left wing from the right. The ball presents itself to Marseille's new-boy but he takes an extra touch instead of getting his laces behind it and he loses possession.
The fresh faces in the French team have been given a golden opportunity tonight to show their worth to Didier Deschamps but none of them have really taken it so far. Payet has seen a lot of the ball but hasn't showed much promise as yet. Kondogbia and Guilavogui are being bypassed in midfield.
DE BRUYNE!!! Best chance of the evening so far and the Chelsea wide man has squandered it! Finally a decent delivery troubles Les Blues' back line as Koscielny toes a clearance straight to the Belgian winger. He has to take the chance quickly though and can't adjust his feet quick enough, dragging his effort wide of goal from inside the six-yard box.
France try to take a quick corner and Valbuena has time to send in a cross but once again the delivery is a shocker. The quality of the final ball has been a real issue for both sides so far.
It's France's turn to break now as Benzema plays a smart pass out to Sagna on the right wing. The Arsenal full-back can't find a team-mate though as the cross is nodded away.
Free kick for Belgium in a dangerous area now. Hazard is brought down by debutant Geoffrey Kondogbia on the edge of the area. Pocognoli goes for goal but his shot is deflected behind for a corner.
Some quick passing and Belgium break downfield in numbers, sending Lukaku into the corner again. The Chelsea striker gets the better of Abidal but his cross is a poor one and loops straight out for a goal kick.
Important block from Courtois! The goalkeeper blocks Ribery's cross as he attempts to fine Benzema unmarked in the area.
Samir Nasri is another Frenchman back in the side tonight after a long exodus. He only starts on the bench this evening.
De Bruyne sends in another cross for Lukaku to attempt to get on the end of but Lloris is quick off his line to grasp the ball and remove the danger.
Three-on-three for the Belgians but once again they can capitalise on the break as Kevin De Bruyne's through-ball is well read and intercepted by Koscielny.
Another set piece for the French and Lukaku's unorthodox attempt at a clearance ends up heading towards his own goal! Luckily it is easily dealt with by Courtois in the end but that could have gone anywhere!
In fact Belgium all round are looking to win the ball back whenever they can! Payet is dispossessed by Sebastien Pocognoli and Marc Wilmots' side break once more. Hazard hazards an effort from the edge of the area but Lloris is more than equal to the effort.
Kompany is playing pretty high up the pitch here, looking to disrupt Les Blues' build up play before it can get going. He commits yet another foul in the French half to stop Ribery & co building up head of steam.
Best chance of the half so far for Belgium! Kevin De Bruyne does exceptionally well to muscle his way past Clichy and only an excellent piece of defending from Laurent Koscielny prevent Romelu Lukaku from stabbing home from six yards.
Belgium threaten to break once more but Kevin De Bruyne is penalised for handball as he tries to get past Abidal, much to the dismay of the home support. The referee clearly isn't here to make any friends!
Both sides are out for victory tonight! Belgium want to show they can mix it with the best while the Les Blues are out to prove that they still are the best. It's making for a scrappy affair in the opening stages, but no less entertaining.
First save of the evening as Karim Benzema forces Thibaut Courtois into a smart save at his near post just moments after nearly connecting with a Franck Ribery cross.
ooh, that looked a bit naughty. Vincent Kompany catches Mathieu Valbuena with a stray elbow and leaves the Marseille man in a crumpled heap in his own half. Just a free-kick for Les Blues though.
The corner come in and is only half cleared. There's a second bite at the cherry as Fellaini ensures another corner but Van Buyten heads over from the resulting set play.
BELGIUM BREAK!!! There are literally five Belgiums bombing up the pitch against two French defenders. Eden Hazard takes it on himself but Gael Clichy is back well to put the ball behind for a corner.
France make their first inroads of the evening and force a couple of early corners. Payet swings the second one in but it's eventually hacked clear.
I say he returns in a Les Blues jersey, it's more of a light-blue jersey on this occasion as the Deschamps side showcase their baby-blue away top for the evening.
One of those in the French defence tonight is Eric Abidal who makes his first start in a French shirt since his recovery from liver cancer. A truly remarkable story.
And away we go! Belgium send Lukaku in behind the French back four straight away as the colossal striker looks to make his mark early on. It could be a long night for that French back line!
Belgium just have time for a quick huddle that delays the kick off further but we are now good to go!
The teams are out, the national anthems have been sung. The only thing left is for the referee to blow his whistle.
A host of big names in both line ups tonight then and a host of Premier League names too. Belgium's front three tonight has a destinctly Chelsea feel to it. Meanwhile there is a new look midfield for the French as they hand starts to Kondogbia and Guilavogui.
FRANCE: (4-2-3-1) Lloris: Sagna, Koscielny, Abidal, Clichy; Guilavogui, Kondogbia; Payet, Valbuena, Ribery; Benzema.
BELGIUM: (4-3-3) Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Van Buyten, Pocognoli; Witsel, Fellaini, Chadli; De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku.
We only have about 10 minutes to kick off so let's get some team news from Brussels, starting with the home line-up.
France have had their time at the top after enjoying the footballing limelight during the turn of the millennium when they won back-to-back World Cup and European Championships in 1998 and 2000. 13 years and World Cup final defeat later, it seems like a lifetime ago since current coach Didier Deschamps was lifting the World Cup aloft.
For a land that has long been admired for its ability to produce copious amounts of high quality chocolate, Belgium finally has something else to boast about. It's current crop of young footballers are taking the continent by storm as they threaten to become a genuine force in world football. Their opponents tonight meanwhile, appear to slipping in the opposite direction.
Evening folks and welcome to coverage from Stade Roi Baudouin as Belgium prepare to take on France. I'm Harry Slavin and I'll be taking you through the action on what could well be a tasty encounter.
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