France-Belgium: what do the stats tell us?

David takes on Goliath at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in the semi-final of the FIFA World Cup on Tuesday at 20:00 CET.  The only question is: who is David and who is Goliath?  What do the stats tell us?

A nation is willing on its team.  Win and the Red Devils, this is the name of the Belgian national squad, will qualify for the World Cup final against England or possibly Croatia, but what are Belgium's chances.  France has won the World Cup before.  They are our big neighbour, but are the French still a football giant or will the Belgian squad, many of whom play across the water in the English Premier League, relegate them to minnow status?

Belgium and France meet for the 74th time on Tuesday.  Their first game dates from Mayday 1904, when the two teams drew in Brussels.  A draw is not allowed this time and if extra time does not bring a result the emotional roller-coaster of a penalty shoot-out will be our lot.  The omens are good: in the 73 matches Belgium came out victorious more often than not!  Belgium has won no fewer than 30 of its matches against France.  France only won 24 games against Belgium, while 19 matches remained undecided.  The last confrontation dates from June 2015 when Belgium inflicted a 4-3 defeat on Les Bleus, the French national team.

If Belgium has the weight of history on its side, it hasn’t all been plain sailing.  In the later stages of tournaments, at the World Cup in 1938, at the Euros in 1984 and at the World Cup in Mexico in 1986, France won.