ST PETERSBURG, Russia (AP):
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was back to his best in the World Cup quarterfinals, and he’s going to need to be just as good when his team takes on Belgium in the semifinals today.
The experienced Lloris, set to make his 103rd international appearance, will be facing a Belgian team that has scored a tournament-leading 14 goals in five matches.
“Quite simply, I think Belgium is the most complete side in the tournament, in all aspects of the game,” the 31-year-old Lloris said Monday. “They defend well. They know how to attack well. They know how to counterattack. They’re good in the air and on the ground.”
Belgium offer multiple threats, including the speed and trickery of forward Eden Hazard and the strength and finishing of striker Romelu Lukaku, who has scored four goals in Russia. Then there’s the heading ability of its defenders Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany, and of midfielder Marouane Fellaini.
Belgium will be coming into the match after rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat Japan 3-2, followed up by a quality performance in beating Brazil 2-1 in the quarterfinals last Friday.
“They are a great side and have a fantastic generation of players. To beat them, we’ll have to play extremely well and need to make our own luck,” Lloris said. “We know there will be some tough moments in the game, and we’ll have to be ready to suffer. But we will be, because there’s a great spirit in this side.”
Lloris has faced the vast majority of Belgium’s side when playing for English club Tottenham.
“Most of them play in the Premier League, so we know them well. For my part, I have three Tottenham teammates,” Lloris said. “There will be a lot of great players on the pitch.”