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What happens when Belgium meet France?

The neighbours face off for the 75th time in the UEFA Nations League; what should we expect?

 Samuel Umtiti scored France's winner against Belgium in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals
Samuel Umtiti scored France's winner against Belgium in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals Getty Images

Belgium have lost all four of their previous final tournament meetings with France but will be hoping the balance shifts when they lock horns for the first time in the UEFA Nations League.

The teams last crossed paths in 2018 in a game that neither side will forget, Samuel Umtiti scoring the only goal of their FIFA World Cup semi-final as Les Bleus handed their neighbours a first defeat since September 2016. Didier Deschamps' men marched on to the final, beating Croatia 4-2 to become world champions and dispel the agony of losing the UEFA EURO 2016 decider on home soil.

France's Michel Platini unleashes a shot against Belgium in 1984
France's Michel Platini unleashes a shot against Belgium in 1984AFP via Getty Images

The sides now face a semi-final reunion as they meet in the UEFA Nations League in Turin, both smarting from untimely exits at EURO 2020. France's shoot-out loss to Switzerland prompted much soul-searching, while the Red Devils' quarter-final exit to Italy was another reminder that Belgium's 'golden generation' has still to bring home a trophy.

The backdrop

Brussels is the nearest European capital to Paris; the cities are a little over 250km apart. No surprise, then, that the teams' first official meeting came all the way back in 1904, a friendly game which ended 3-3 in Brussels at the Stade du Vivier d'Oie (literal translation: Goose Breeding Stadium). They remained on good terms in the following decades, playing regular friendlies and travelling together on the SS Conte Verde when they set off to Uruguay to compete in the first World Cup in 1930.

The competitive meetings

 PlayedBelgium winsDrawsFrance winsBelgium goalsFrance goals
EURO522158
World Cup71151017

EURO: Belgium beat France 2-1 at home in qualifying for EURO 1968 and drew 1-1 in the return fixture in Paris, but it was Les Bleus who topped the group and progressed to the quarter-finals, losing out to Yugoslavia over two legs.

The Red Devils then secured another 2-1 home victory and an away draw (0-0) when they took on France aiming to reach the 1976 finals. Belgium won the section this time, only to be mauled by neighbours the Netherlands in the last eight.

The sides' last competitive encounter in UEFA competition came at the EURO 1984 final tournament, Michel Platini scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 group stage victory in Nantes. Platini ended the finals with nine goals as well as a winner's medal.

Watch Platini's nine goals at EURO 1984
Watch Platini's nine goals at EURO 1984

World Cup: Paris was the venue for the teams' first competitive encounter, France beating Belgium 3-1 in their opening game as 1938 World Cup hosts. As this edition took on a knockout format from start to finish, that spelled an early exit for Belgium, while Les Bleus were to be eliminated in the next round by eventual winners Italy.

The sides were later paired in qualifying for the 1958 and 1982 World Cups, and came together again in the third-place play-off at the 1986 finals; it was 2-2 after 90 minutes in Puebla, Mexico, before a goal from Bernard Genghini and a Manuel Amoros penalty earned France their bronze medals.

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