Upsets and minnows may animate the party phase-the three-week, 48-match group stage-but at the business of the tournament, there is nothing but fierce competence.
Belgium winger Eden Hazard has praised Roberto Martinez ahead of his countries semi-final against France on Tuesday evening. However, Croatia are still one of the least creative sides to have made the knockouts, largely because they are too reliant on the Real Madrid midfielder.
Samuel Umtiti scored the victor.
Following the victory, France will play the victor of tomorrow's game between England and Croatia.
Thierry Henry's presence at the 2018 World Cup has been as discreet as he can make it, but he cannot control all the cameramen turning their lenses on him, all the press conference enquiries about him or indeed, the exuberance of some Belgian players. Both networks have seen strong ratings for this year's tournament, with Fox building its numbers that peaked with a tournament-high 6.32 million tuning in for the Croatia-Russia quarterfinal Saturday - the best men's soccer number on an American network since the 2014 World Cup final.
After reaching the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016, Belgium again missed the chance to get to an global final and has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations.
This version of the team, so stacked with young talent, could have broken either way.
The first yellow card of the game was issued to Belgium's Eden Hazard, who pulls Matuidi to ground to prevent a France counter-attack and shortly following was Alderweireld who picked up Belgium's second booking.
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Breaking the dead-lock Les Bleus settled into a comfortable rhythm.
Umtiti's goal, a header from a Griezmann corner, was the 69th at this World Cup to be scored from a set piece, out of the total 158.
Henry, France's all-time top scorer, and second-most-capped player after Lilian Thuram, is trying to help Martinez mastermind a win over his own nation.
In the semifinal, both sides will play a game of "pick your poison" in what promises to be an energetic, back-and-forth match. The red-clad Belgians hardly knew what to make of it. "They're good in the air and on the ground". They stared at each other-how had this happened? Several players have club teammates on the opposite bench.
Not only did a lot of them speak a common language, but 14 of the 22 starters on Tuesday night also played in the English Premier League, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur represented in both blue and red jerseys.
It is the first time since 1998 that the nation of just over four million people have reached this stage of the competition, after they eliminated Russian Federation in a penalty shootout at the weekend.
France and Belgium meet in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday night to decide who will become the first finalists at the 2018 World Cup.