Captain Hugo Lloris is confident France will be ready for the challenge of taking on a Belgium outfit who “know how to do everything” in tonight’s World Cup semi-final.
The Belgians, often said to currently have a ‘golden generation’ of players, have looked impressive during their run at the tournament, which included a 2-1 victory over Brazil in the last eight.
They have sealed a place in the semis for only the second time, and the first since 1986.
And Lloris, pictured, said at a pre-match press conference streamed on Fifa’s official website: “They are an exhaustive team, they know how to do everything.
“I think the Belgian team is the most exhaustive team in all aspects of the game during this tournament – they are strong everywhere.
“They have everything they need to be a great team and they are a great team. It is a fantastic generation and in order to beat them we will have to play a great match.
“We know there are going to be difficult moments and we’ll have to be ready to suffer.
“But we will be ready because we have an extremely good state of mind and it is the semi-finals in the World Cup. It is an opportunity in our careers and we have to grab it with both hands.”
The 31-year-old goalkeeper has three Tottenham team-mates in the Belgium squad and there will likely be a number of cases of Premier League club colleagues facing each other during tonight’s game in St Petersburg.
France boss Didier Deschamps said: “We know them, they know us.
“The peculiarity is there are many players on my team who have their own club team-mates facing them. So they know each other. It’s an advantage on both sides.”
In terms of familiarity, there is also the fact Belgium have former France forward Thierry Henry working as an assistant coach under Roberto Martinez.
Deschamps, who was Henry’s captain in the French squad that won the 1998 World Cup, said: “Of course, it is a difficult situation, it really is not easy for him and it does happen sometimes. You are part of the enemy team.
“He did know that from the time he was joining the management team and becoming an assistant to Martinez, that that could happen. But on the personal front it is with great pleasure that I’m going to see him.”
Meanwhile, Martinez has admitted it took him two years to give Belgium’s bunch of individual superstars the belief that they can go on and win their first World Cup together.
Belgium go into their semi-final against France in St Petersburg on a high after a quarter-win win over Brazil which shattered the notion that their big names are impossible to unite in one team.
Martinez said: “Now I think a lot of questions have been answered in saying that this is a team, not a group of individuals. They made a commitment of trying to help each other become a high-performance squad and to come together to be as good as we can.”