PARIS : France coach Didier Deschamps is expecting a 'fight' against Belgium in their Nations League semi-final clash on Thursday but insisted that both sides respected each other.
The Belgians left the 2018 World Cup feeling they were the better team in the 1-0 semi-final defeat by eventual champions France and Thursday's game in Turin will be their first encounter since then.
"It is going to be a fight, physically, technically and tactically," Deschamps told a news conference on Monday.
"But there is enough respect between (Belgium coach) Roberto Martinez and me, and between the players."
Deschamps added that the rivalry between the two nations was "sane".
"It's the same as with Italy or Spain, we share a border," he explained.
"In 2018, like us they had the possibility to go to the (World Cup) final. They didn't but Thursday's game will not change anything."
Deschamps is aware that Belgium will provide a tough test for France, who will be without their influential midfielder Ngolo Kante as he has been isolating following a positive COVID-19 test.
"They are the number one nation in the FIFA rankings. They are well organisers with young players who have been emerging and some players with more than 100 caps, very experienced," he said.
"They have a solid defence and a lot of firepower up front."
Deschamps said that the game would be "system against system" with the France coach looking to find the right "balance" against a team expected to play with a lone striker.
Belgium have not beaten France in a competitive game since a World Cup qualifier in 1981.
The winner of the semi-final will face Italy or Spain in the final.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)