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Five memorable clashes between France and Belgium

France and Belgium meet in the Euro 2024 knockout rounds this evening in a heavyweight clash between the neighbouring nations.

Ranked second and third in the world by FIFA, it’s a huge match between two teams who will demand improvement from their group-stage performances.

Ahead of the clash in Düsseldorf, we’ve remembered five classic contests between France and Belgium.

France 6-3 Belgium – World Cup qualification (1956)

France and Belgium were drawn together in qualification for the 1958 World Cup in a three-team group, alongside Iceland, in which goals were not in short supply. There were 41 goals scored in the six games between the teams, including a nine-goal thriller between France and Belgium that kicked off the group.

Thadée Cisowski was the difference between the teams as the Poland-born striker scored five times for France, including a first-half hat-trick. Cisowski scored 11 goals in 13 caps for France but never played in a World Cup as injuries ruled him out of the 1954 and 1958 campaigns.

Incredibly, the rematch in Belgium ended goalless.

France 5-0 Belgium – European Championship group stage (1984)

Michel Platini had few equals in European football during the early eighties and Euro ’84 was the zenith of Le Roi’s (The King) time with Les Bleus.

Platini was the inspiration for a first-ever major tournament success on home soil, scoring nine goals in five games as France were crowned European champions for the first time. After scoring the decisive goal in a 1-0 win over Denmark, Platini produced an unforgettable performance as France thrashed Belgium in their next fixture.

The midfielder scored a perfect hat-trick as France routed their opposition, before scoring another hat-trick against Yugoslavia in their third group game. Further goals in the semi-final – a 119th-minute extra-time winner against Portugal – and final sealed Platini’s tournament as the greatest-ever individual Euros.

He was rightfully coronated with the second of three consecutive Ballon d’Or awards in 1984.

Iconic Performances: Peak Platini hits three in rout of Belgium at Euro ’84

Belgium 2-4 France – World Cup third-place play-off (1986)

Two years later, Belgium and France met again in a major tournament. Each had been edged out in tense World Cup semi-finals but ensured their campaign ended with a fun-filled third-place play-off.

Six goals were shared at the Estadio Cuauhtémoc in Mexico, with France claiming a podium place with an extra-time win. A see-sawing game saw both teams lead in normal time, before goals from Bernard Genghini and a Manuel Amoros penalty – remarkably the right-back’s only international goal in 82 caps – sealed victory for Les Bleus.

France 3-4 Belgium – International friendly (2015)

Belgium cemented their reputation as a rising force in international football after an impressive performance to beat France in Saint-Denis.

Marouane Fellaini’s first-half brace as the Stade de France but Belgium in control at the break, before Radja Nainggolan added a third for the dominant visitors.

Mathieu Valbuena pulled one back for France from the spot but Belgium restored their three-goal cushion just seconds later, as Eden Hazard confidently converted a penalty of his own after Laurent Koscielny had brought down Axel Witsel.

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Late goals from Nabil Fekir and Dimitri Payet added respectability to the scoreline for the French, but this was a statement performance from a Belgium team on the up.

France 1-0 Belgium – World Cup semi-final (2018)

Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ reached a first major tournament semi-final in 32 years at the 2018 World Cup, and faced off against France for a place in the decider.

Belgium had impressed to beat Brazil in the last eight and were the better side for much of the semi-final tie, but fell to defeat as Samuel Umtiti scored a flicked header from Antoine Griezmann’s corner kick.

The Red Devils were unable to find a route back into the game as Hugo Lloris denied Axel Witsel and Toby Alderweireld, with France holding on to claim a precious 1-0 win and a place in the World Cup final. A 4-2 victory over Croatia in Russia crowned Les Bleus world champions for the second time.

Read – Five free agent forwards Premier League clubs could target

See more – Five early transfer deals you might have missed across Europe

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