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Belgium vs France: Romelu Lukaku vs Kylian Mbappé

Teen sensations come good: we compare Romelu Lukaku and Kylian Mbappé ahead of their semi-final showdown.

Nations League finals: Lukaku v Mbappé
Nations League finals: Lukaku v Mbappé

When Belgium face France in the second UEFA Nations League semi-final on 7 October, much of the focus is expected to fall on star forwards Romelu Lukaku and Kylian Mbappé.

Both were teenage sensations at the start of their careers and have since gone on to fulfil that early promise, Lukaku becoming Belgium's all-time record scorer and Mbappé spearheading France's 2018 FIFA World Cup triumph.

Mbappé helped Les Bleus see off Belgium in that tournament, but Lukaku has enjoyed the upper hand too, with his Red Devils celebrating after a subsequent meeting – Manchester United, that is. We compare the duo ahead of their Turin reunion.

Previous meetings

2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final: France 1-0 Belgium (Saint Petersburg)

Kylian Mbappé celebrates France's 2018  win against Belgium
Kylian Mbappé celebrates France's 2018 win against Belgium AFP via Getty Images

Lukaku scored three goals in Belgium's two UEFA EURO 2020 games in Saint Petersburg but in 2018 he found himself snuffed out by Raphaël Varane. At the other end, Mbappé was a constant threat, though he was not involved in the winning goal as Samuel Umtiti headed in Antoine Griezmann's corner shortly after half-time.

2018/19 UEFA Champions League round of 16: Manchester United 0-2/3-1 Paris Saint-Germain (agg: 3-3, United won on away goals)

Neither Neymar nor Edinson Cavani were fit for Paris's trip to Old Trafford, but Mbappé was and starred in a dominant performance, making it 2-0 on the hour. That goal seemed to have settled the tie, only for everything to change in France as United became the first club to overturn a home defeat by more than one goal in a UEFA Champions League knockout contest.

Lukaku proved key to turning the tide, striking two minutes in when he pounced on a loose back pass. Mbappé set up Juan Bernat not long after to seemingly restore Paris control, but Lukaku pounced again on the half-hour when Gianluigi Buffon spilled a Marcus Rashford effort. The England forward then held his nerve to convert the decisive penalty deep in added time.

International stats: compared

Romelu Lukaku

All of Romelu Lukaku's EURO goals
All of Romelu Lukaku's EURO goals

Debut: 3 March 2010, Belgium 0-1 Croatia (friendly)
Age at debut: 16 years, 294 days
First international goal: 17 November 2010, Russia 0-2 Belgium (two goals, eighth cap, friendly)
Age at first international goal: 17 years, 188 days
Caps: 98
International goals: 64
Minutes per international goal: 98
UEFA Nations League overall record: 7 appearances, 9 goals, 2 assists
2020/21 UEFA Nations League record: 5 appearances, 5 goals, 1 assist

  • Belgium's all-time leading scorer
  • 2018 World Cup Bronze Boot winner
  • UEFA EURO 2020 Team of the Tournament

Kylian Mbappé

Debut: 25 March 2017, Luxembourg 1-3 France (FIFA World Cup qualifying)
Age at debut: 18 years, 95 days
First international goal: 31 August 2017, France 4-0 Netherlands (fifth cap, FIFA World Cup qualifying)
Age at first international goal: 18 years 254 days
Caps: 48
International goals: 17
Minutes per goal: 204
UEFA Nations League overall record: 8 appearances, 3 goals, 1 assist
2020/21 UEFA Nations League record: 4 appearances, 2 goals, 1 assist

  • 2018 World Cup and 2016 Under-19 EURO winner
  • 2018 World Cup Best Young Player Award
  • France's youngest debutant since 1955 and youngest scorer since 1963
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Last updated: 18 July 2021