Martinez close to making history with Belgium in the numbers game

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-07 16:57:55|Editor: Xiang Bo
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Paul Giblin

SAMARA, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Friday's World Cup quarter-finals threw up some interesting statistics and mean that Belgium boss, Roberto Martinez has the chance to make history at the 2018 World Cup finals.

Belgium's thrilling 2-1 win over Russia in Kazan makes the Spaniard the coach from a different country to lead a team to the last four of the World Cup since the Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari guided Portugal to the semi-finals in 2006.

No 'foreign' coach has so far led a country to the title, so Martinez is just two matches away from making more history, given that Friday's victory means that Belgium have won 5 consecutive matches in the World Cup finals for the first time ever and reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1986, where they were beaten by Argentina.

The Belgians are sharing the goals amongst them: Kevin de Bruyne's first half strike means that nine Belgian players have now scored in Russia, with the team chalking up a total of 14 goals so far in the tournament.

The record for the number of different players hitting the target for one country in a World Cup is 10 and held by France in 1982 and Italy in 2006.

Brazil meanwhile cannot set a new record of matches played in the Wold Cup finals: Friday saw them tie with Germany's record of 109 matches in the final stages, but they (and the Germans) will have to wait until 2022 before match 110.

France's win over Uruguay means they reach the semi-finals for the sixth time, with five of those appearances in Europe (Sweden 1958, Spain 1982, France 1998, Germany 2006 and now Russia,) the only time they reached the last four on a different continent was in Mexico 1986.

That doesn't mean they have a poor record against South American sides however, as Friday's win against Uruguay means the French have not lost (6 wins and 4 draws) in their last 10 games against South American opposition; a run going back to Argentina 1978.

Finally Belgium and France's triumphs ensures an all-European semi-final for the fifth time in the World Cup (Italy 1934, England 1966, Spain 1982 and German 2006), with all of those tournaments also celebrated in Europe.