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Lukaku could hold the key for Belgium in World Cup semi-final

Daniel Anwar | 10 July 2018

He caused huge problems for Brazil on the right

Are Belgium’s Golden Generation going to deliver this summer? They’re now just two games away from winning the World Cup for the first time in the nation’s history.

But they’re up against France in Tuesday’s semi-final. France are 2/1 favourites to win the tournament and 29/20 to make it through in St. Petersburg. Belgium are 19/10 underdogs to progress.

If Roberto Martinez’s side are going to cause an upset, Romelu Lukaku will have a key role to play.

Occupy the defence

Lukaku has four goals so far in Russia. He’s 9/2 to open the scoring or 9/5 to add to his tally Anytime here.

Roberto Martinez may use him wide on the right, as he did to great success in the quarter-finals against Brazil.

It’s a ploy Martinez occasionally used when they worked together at Everton, most notably in a 3-0 win over Arsenal that saw Lukaku torment Nacho Monreal.

Against Brazil, Lukaku and Eden Hazard played on the flanks, with Kevin De Bruyne pushing forward in the middle.

It would make sense to continue with that set-up here, especially as right wing-back Thomas Meunier is suspended.

Lukaku operates almost as a decoy in this system. Very few full-backs can contain someone of his height and power. N’Golo Kante may have to drift towards that flank to try and contain the striker. That opens up room for Hazard and De Bruyne to exploit elsewhere.

All-around threat

Everyone knows Lukaku is a superb goalscorer. The Manchester United star has scored over 25 goals in each of the last three seasons, after all. But he’s had a chance to display the full range of his qualities in Russia.

He’s shown off his ability to run at defenders in a way he doesn’t often get a chance to at club level. He drove through the spine of the Brazil team before playing a clever pass to set up De Bruyne for Belgium’s second goal on Friday.

His hold-up play has also been very good, while his movement is causing havoc for defences.

He’s also been a prominent leader in the Belgium squad too, often rallying his teammates in post-game huddles.

If Belgium are going to make it into the final, they’ll need another big display from their record goalscorer. Lukaku will be determined to provide it.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing