Tributes flowed on Thursday following news that former France coach Michel Hidalgo had died of natural causes, aged 87.

Hidalgo led France between 1976 to 1984 – hauling Les Bleus out of the international wilderness and to the glory of a maiden major honour at the 1984 European Championship.

France's run to the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup established Hidalgo's swashbuckling side as a favourite of many neutrals, but he still needed a couple of tweaks to get the balance just right before expectant support on home soil two years later.

Ultimately he did just that, with a midfield quartet of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez sweeping all before them.

Here, we take a closer look at the Hidalgo's foursome that is affectionately remembered as France's Carre Magique – Magic Square.

LUIS FERNANDEZ

The final piece in the puzzle and an invaluable presence at the base of Hidalgo's sparkling midfield diamond, Spanish-born Fernandez did not make his France debut until after the 1982 World Cup run. After that, he only lined up as part of the famous quartet when England visited Paris for a friendly in February 1984. A Platini brace saw off Bobby Robson's men and Fernandez' superb positional sense and tough tackling instantly laid a foundation for flourishes such as Giresse's mazy run to set up the opening goal.

The Paris Saint-Germain maestro also passed with smooth precision, not to be outdone by the more celebrated creatives before him. The youngest corner of the square, Fernandez was 24 at the European Championship and is perhaps best remembered for dispatching the decisive penalty two years later that saw France progress to the World Cup semi-finals once more at Brazil's expense.

He was also around for the denouement and the ignominy of failing to qualify for major tournaments in 1988 and 1990, before being granted a swansong of sorts as part of the Platini-coached France squad at Euro 92.

ALAIN GIRESSE

By contrast to Fernandez, Giresse was an international veteran of 12 years when France's moment of truth arrived. A diminutive gem of a footballer, his goal had France on the brink of semi-final glory against West Germany in 1982 – establishing a 3-1 lead in extra-time before a heart-breaking collapse to penalty shoot-out defeat.

Giresse arrived at the European Championships in prime form, having just collected a Ligue 1 crown with Bordeaux that was retained the following season. He made 592 appearances for the Girondins before joining Marseille in 1986.

Platini's relentless foil, living up to his nickname of 'Moteur', Giresse got on the scoresheet alongside Fernandez in the 5-0 group-stage hammering of Belgium – with Platini netting a hat-trick.

In retirement, a nomadic coaching career has seen Giresse lead the national teams of Georgia, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia.

JEAN TIGANA

Giresse was not alone in underpinning lavish talent with a phenomenal work-rate. Any opponent of Tigana knew they had been in a game – not least the bedraggled Portugal backline as his slaloming run set up Platini's last-gasp winner in extra time of the semi-final. The goal stands as arguably the defining moment of France's victory march.

His long-time alliance with Giresse at Bordeaux was a gift to Hidalgo in plotting his celebrated configuration and Tigana would make the same move to Marseille in 1989, adding two more Ligue 1 titles to the three he collected on the Garonne River.

A future coach of Monaco and Fulham, Tigana was indisputably among the best in the world and finished second in the 1984 Ballon d'Or voting. There was, of course, only one winner.

MICHEL PLATINI

The true beauty of the Carre Magique was how the winning blend of technique and tenacity allowed Platini to enjoy the fullest realisation of his incredible talents. Few players have stamped their mark so irresistibly over a major tournament as France's main man did in 1984, making light of with weightiest expectations.

His preposterous final numbers read nine goals in five appearances, after scoring in each game of the competition. Having settled opening nerves 12 minutes from time in a 1-0 win over Denmark, the Juventus superstar made merry by claiming the matchball in consecutive outings against Belgium and Yugoslavia. He stood tallest in his country's moment of need in the semi-final before an error from Luis Arconada allowed his free-kick to squirm home in the showpiece.

From poached efforts, to delicate chips, via thumping drives and diving headers, no type of goal was beyond Platini, who won three consecutive Ballons d'Or between 1983 and 1985. He was a phenomenon, rightly celebrated and deserving of icon status now somewhat at odds with his discredited post-career in football administration chicanery.

Senegal will not underestimate Tunisia as they bid to reach the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time in their history.

The Lions beat Benin 1-0 courtesy of Idrissa Gueye's 69th-minute strike to reach the last four, keeping a clean sheet for the fourth time at this year's competition.

Only Algeria have managed to breach Senegal's steely defence so far, but on Sunday they go up against a Tunisia side who eased to a 3-0 quarter-final victory over Madagascar.

Senegal coach Aliou Cisse expects another tough challenge, telling a news conference: "Tunisia are a good team who do good things. We won't underestimate anyone and we won't lack concentration.

"There are still two matches to go. We came here with ambition, we hoped to reach the quarter-final, but we'll keep our feet on the ground.

"We haven't reached this stage since 2006. It's been 13 years and Senegal haven't been here, so this already represents a progression.

"We'll have more humility. I believe these are great professionals. I've always been confident in the work we're doing."

Tunisia put in an impressive second-half display against Madagascar, scoring twice in eight minutes before Naim Sliti added a third in second-half stoppage time.

"We are the first to beat Madagascar," Tunisia boss Alain Giresse said. "This proves the quality of this team in this competition.

"We are very satisfied we are in the semi-finals. Now we are at this stage of the competition, which Tunisia had been waiting for for many years. It was an objective.

"We have to play this semi-final with all our weapons and obviously try to go as far as possible. We know what to do about it. We know what to expect.

"We want to finish this competition in style."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal - Alfred Gomis

SPAL goalkeeper Gomis has conceded just once at this year's tournament but his toughest test awaits against Tunisia.

Tunisia - Youssef Msakni

Msakni was instrumental in turning the quarter-final against Madagascar in his team’s favour, providing the assist for Ferjani Sassi's opener before netting the second himself.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- It will be the sixth encounter between Senegal and Tunisia in the Africa Cup of Nations, but the first in semi-finals.
- Senegal have won their last three games in the Africa Cup of Nations, their longest streak in the competition.
- Tunisia will play their sixth Africa Cup of Nations semi-final. The Carthage Eagles have qualified for the final twice previously, against Zambia in 1996 and against Nigeria in 2004.
- Senegal have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last nine games in the Africa Cup of Nations (3 goals conceded overall), after failing to do so in each of their previous 14.
- Tunisia's striker Wahbi Khazri has been involved in 29 shots in the 2019 edition (16 shots attempted, 13 chances created), more than any other player.

Tunisia coach Alain Giresse urged his side to take full advantage of the shock exits of Africa Cup of Nations favourites Egypt and Morocco as they prepare to face Ghana in the last 16.

Despite failing to win a single game in the group phase, Tunisia progressed with Mali and face tricky opposition next in a Ghana side who have been improving with every match.

With hosts Egypt and Morocco out after surprise defeats to South Africa and Benin respectively, there is an opportunity for others to stake their claim for the title.

Giresse recognises the chance that is now open to Tunisia and is prepared to make the most of Ghana's "weak points" in their quest for a quarter-final spot.

"Egypt and Morocco's exits are a huge surprise and we will give everything to continue in the tournament," he told reporters.

"Ghana are a strong and harmonious team. They are complete in most of the positions, but we analysed them well and we can work on their weak points."

Forward Taha Yassine Khenissi, who scored in Tunisia's final warm-up game against Burundi but has yet to find the net in the tournament, said: "We face Ghana with one aim, which is winning and qualifying.

"We don't think about the group matches. You'll see a fresh face for the national team and all the players are united to qualify the national team."

Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah, whose side came through the group stage without losing a game, underlined the importance of mental toughness going into the round of 16.

The Black Stars topped Group F after holding Benin and Cameroon to draws and beating Guinea-Bissau, and Appiah warned his players against underestimating Tunisia, who came second in Group E behind Mali.

"The most important thing is to think about Tunisia's game now," said Appiah. "We plead to all Ghanaians to keep supporting the team with a positive mindset.

"My team is prepared both mentally and physically for the game on Monday.

"All our minds are on the game against Tunisia because we need to win the game on Monday so that we can think about other opponents.

"Every team in the tournament is well prepared and ready to win the trophy so we will not underrate any opponent we meet in the tournament."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tunisia - Wahbi Khazri

Tunisia have reached the round of 16 despite scoring just two goals at this year's tournament, one of which was a Wahbi Khazri free-kick, and the Saint-Etienne attacker will be a threat at dead-ball situations against Ghana.

Ghana - Baba Rahman

Chelsea full-back Rahman was in inspired form in the 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau, providing the assists for Jordan Ayew and Thomas Partey to score and, if he is given space down the left, he can hurt Tunisia.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- It will be the eighth game between Ghana and Tunisia in the Africa Cup of Nations. The Carthage Eagles are the are the Black Stars' favourite opposition in the tournament, having faced them the most without losing (W6 D1).
- Ghana have been eliminated in seven of their last 11 games in the knockout phase of the Africa Cup of Nations, after qualifying in five of their previous seven.
- Tunisia have been eliminated in their past five knockout games in the Africa Cup of Nations, their last success beyond the group phase being the 2004 final against Morocco (2-1), when they hosted the tournament.

Tunisia sealed qualification for the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations despite a lacklustre 0-0 draw against Mauritania.

Alain Giresse's side made it three draws out of three in Group E – enough for second place behind Mali, who overcame Angola 1-0.

Mauritania came into the match having recorded a solitary shot on target in their first two matches but were the better side before the break against a lacklustre Tunisia at Suez Stadium.

Ghana are up next for the Eagles of Carthage, having swatted aside Guinea-Bissau to top Group F earlier on Tuesday.

Mouez Hassen was at fault for Mali's opener in Tunisia's 1-1 draw last time out and he unconvincingly pushed Ismael Diakite's early attempt behind.

Mauritania lost captain Abdoul Ba to injury in the 17th minute but they remained in the ascendancy – Moctar Sidi El Hacen heading wastefully wide from close range.

Hassen denied Bessam and saw Diakite power over either side of Youssef Msakni forcing a save from Brahim Souleymane on a rare Tunisia attack.

The introduction of Taha Khenissi in place of Bassem Srarfi at the break heralded an improvement from Giresse's men.

Msakni exchanged passes with Wahbi Khazri but shot too close to Souleymane, who gathered the Tunisia captain's header as a forgettable encounter approached its conclusion.

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