Paris, July 10: As neighbours France and Belgium take on each other in the first semi-final of the Fifa World Cup in St Petersburg in Russia on Tuesday, July 10, the media is busy painting the rivalry as between two famous comic characters - Asterix and Tintin.
France's Aujourd'hui en France newspaper prepared a full-page spread featuring the two popular comic characters and said it was more than a match.
While Asterix is a Frenchman, Tintin - the daring journalist - has Belgium as his home.
Sunday French paper Le Journal du Dimanche also devoted several pages to the friendship and rivalry between the two countries and attached an excerpt from an Asterix comic book showing a dispute between Belgian and Gallic chieftains.
France's main sports paper L'Equipe, on the other hand, changed the cover of Tintin's "Destination Moon" to feature former French World Cup winning captain Didier Deschamps and Olivier Giroud heading for a space-bound rocket guarded by Belgian players, including their goalie Thibaut Courtois, who has earned a name for himself in this edition.
Tintin and Asterix have always been rivals in the world of the comic strips for both are popular for their entertainment and art. However, when they turn into symbols of competing nationalisms, as it will be seen in St Petersburg where Belgium and France will vie for a place in the World Cup final (the French have a 2-1 lead in the mega tournament), then the task to find a difference between them will be too difficult.
Former champions France kicked out teams like Argentina and Uruguay in the knock-out stages whereas Belgium won an exciting game against Japan after trailing 0-2 and then booted out five-time champions Brazil in the quarters to make their second World Cup semifinal after 1986.
In the other semifinal in Moscow on Wednesday, July 11, England will take on Croatia.