We can take the example of Germany's World Cup success of 2014 which was the culmination of a process that started way back in 2000, the same starting point for the current Belgium team that France will face in Saint Petersburg Tuesday evening.
Belgium will be seeking to break new ground by reaching the final for the first time in their history - indeed they have only reached the semifinals once before, in 1986.
"It's just a very strong team, but for me Mbappe is the best". "They can defend and attack, they can counter-attack, they can dominate in the air or on the ground - they have everything that they need to be a great team and they are, in fact, a great team". In fact, four of Belgium's five games have witnessed over 2.5 goals scored. For nearly all of his two years in charge, he has operated with a back three and it looked like the returning Vincent Kompany would slot in between Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. Barring a Kylian Mbappe-inspired 4-3 victory over Argentina, France have lacked cohesion in the final third.
"He's brought something we didn't have", said Spanish coach Martinez. We know it will be a tough match.
Lloris has faced the vast majority of Belgium's side when playing for English club Tottenham.
"He will be feeling divided loyalties tomorrow", France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said on Monday. Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling, and Jesse Lingard rotated possession neatly in the Sweden half, cleverly sucking the opposition to one side of the pitch before quickly switching the play for one of the wing-backs to dart into space and cross.
Stopping them will be a different matter. "I think the Belgians will arrive with a lot of confidence". There's still a sense that he could be doing more with the brilliant set of players at his disposal, France frequently a fairly stodgy team to watch, relying on moments of brilliance from Pogba, Mbappe or Griezmann.
Now it is his job to halt the run of his home nation.
"I'd have preferred him to be with us and to be giving his advice to me". Belgium defeating Brazil was an upset, even considering the brilliant players they have at their disposal, while over the past couple of years France have under-performed considering the incredible levels of talent available to Didier Deschamps. The back line then was missing injured central defender Raphael Varane. "He's imposing himself more and more".
Modric was superb against Russian Federation, once again putting in a man-of-the-match performance to drag Croatia to the semi-finals. "He's becoming more and more aggressive in his tackling, and it's great to count on him".
With the second-youngest roster at the World Cup, France has shown no fear and advanced to its first World Cup semifinal since 2006 led by 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappé and a pair of inexperienced attacking fullbacks in Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez.
"It still hurts because we missed out on something exceptional in becoming European champions".
The two European big-hitters have progressed to the final four of the World Cup in Russian Federation after overcoming some high-profile opposition en route.
It is easy to see something similar happening on Wednesday, when N'Golo Kante will often be screening the defence alone as Belgium break. It's not just his work rate, not just his tackling.
Deschamps also took a jibe at Martinez.