France captain Hugo Lloris knows a cohesive, collective defensive effort will be required from France if they are to tame Belgium's potent attack in the World Cup semifinal, he said on Monday.
The France and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper said even if he can impose himself on the game at Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday, he will need his teammates to defend as one if Les Bleus are to hold off Belgium's multi-faceted and supremely talented offensive arsenal.
"We are aware that we are going to face one of the best attacking teams, they have an awful lot of quality," said the 31-year-old Lloris. "It is not just going to be the goalkeeper and four defenders in front. We will have to play collectively, we will have to be a disciplined team to close all the spaces because they are very dangerous."
In the wake of a heroic 3-2, come-from-behind win over Japan and a 2-1 defeat of perennial favorites Brazil, Belgium roll into the semifinal having scored 14 times in Russia, three more goals than any other team.
The bruising and in-form Romelu Lukaku is at the tip of their spear with the creative thrust of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens feeding the big man up front, or hunting for themselves.
Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli have also proved capable of chipping in at critical times, the former particularly in the air.
But France counter that their defenders can hold their own while allowing their star-studded attack to strike.
French coach and former World Cup-winning captain Didier Deschamps singled out Chelsea's N'golo Cante as the player who can and will make life difficult for the Red Devils, as he did for Argentina's talisman Lionel Messi in the round of 16.
"Cante is an essential part (of the defense), through his activity, the number of balls he gets back, but also his positioning...You don't want to just steal the ball from the feet of the opponent, he also has a lot of trajectories on passing in attack, so yes, he will have an important role to play tomorrow in the same way he has for every match," said the 49-year-old.
"I want him to be as efficient as possible for our team...When we faced, Lionel Messi, he had a very precise role, and he performed that role very well. It is true we did not see too much of Messi when he played against us."
Lloris, who has shown himself in Russia to be in the very top echelon of goalkeepers, said that Raphael Varane's performance in central defense will be vital in holding the Belgians at bay.
Calling the Real Madrid defender a conscientious and earnest leader, Lloris explained that Varane is "always trying to be in the right position, he has great timing, he was very, very good in aerial challenges (in the quarterfinal) against Uruguay, and I find him a lot more aggressive now in his one on ones."
In search of the most "beautiful thing in football," Lloris wants his teammates to go beyond their limits, using the confidence they have built along with an intelligence and wisdom forged in their experiences in Russia.
"When you face a great team such as the Belgian team, you do have to adapt your play, and you have to adapt to their comfort zones. It is a complete team, they know how to do everything," Lloris said.
"The answers will be collective (and) that's what we have to bring to the pitch tomorrow when it comes to the essential mindset. It is played on small margins and we will have no opportunity to lose concentration...Tomorrow is another step, and it is going to be an important step for all our careers."