At Guadalajara's Jalisco Stadium Wednesday, France will seek relief from the pain it suffered in its bitter loss to West Germany in the World Cup semifinals four years ago.
The West Germans may mark French superstar Michel Platini, but the real marked man will be West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher, who initiated an ugly incident the last time the teams met.
At Mexico City's Azteca Stadium, Diego Maradona and Argentina are heavily favored to beat Belgium in the other semifinal. Belgium, which upset the Soviet Union in overtime and Spain on penalty kicks to get here, will bring five men back on defense and try to stifle Maradona by marking him with one or two players at all times.
In the France-West Germany match, the French have the greater motivation. In the 1982 Cup semifinals in Spain, France blew a 3-1 lead in overtime as West Germany won on penalty kicks. Eight players on the current French team participated in that loss.
Just as important could be the memory of Schumacher's attack on fullback Patrick Battiston during regulation. As Battiston came down on a breakaway, Schumacher sprinted out of the penalty area and leveled him with an elbow, breaking Battiston's jaw. Although most observers thought the goalkeeper should have been sent off for the play, Schumacher did not even receive a cautioning yellow card.
"The foul is in the past, forgiven and forgotten," Battiston said. "But I don't plan to get close to Schumacher, not less than 40 yards, and this time I will be more careful, for I have paid my dues."
The 1982 match ended with the West Germans winning the shootout, 5-4. French fullback Maxime Bossis, whose missed penalty shot ultimately led to his team's defeat, said: "If we must end in a series of penalties against West Germany again, don't count on me."
This match comes down to France's fast-paced finesse game versus West Germany's physical superiority. The French midfield, keyed by Platini and Jean Tigana, are expected to control the play, overall, but the reigning European champions have had problems with opponents that try to overpower them.
West Germany has little offensive punch and must feel fortunate to be here, having scored only four goals in five Cup matches.
Belgium, too, is a surprise. It finished third in the Cup's preliminary phase in a weak group (behind Mexico and Paraguay) and has given up nine goals in five matches.
Just two years ago, the country was rocked by a bribery and match-fixing scandal involving several members of the national team. The incidents took place during the 1981-82 season. Fullback Eric Gerets, one of the key members of this year's team, was among the players implicated.
In first-round play here, the Belgians bickered, with star goalie Jean-Marie Pfaff criticizing teammates whose defensive errors allowed goals. Sweeper back Franky Van Der Elst said the mood was "bad, to put it mildly" and predicted the dissension was "certain not to heal."
But here the Belgians are, in their first Cup semifinal, playing with growing confidence and surely recalling they beat then-defending titlist Argentina, 1-0, to open the 1982 Cup.