France vs Argentina - Preview - World Cup 2018

France vs Argentina - Preview - World Cup 2018

We’re already on to the next phase of the FIFA World Cup following what has been an absolute bloodbath in the group stage. Plenty of big names have either been eliminated or suffered major scares since the opening ceremony. The title is up for grabs and none of the so-called giants of world football have looked especially confident at this year’s showpiece. France and Argentina will go toe-to-toe at Kazan Arena on Saturday afternoon with neither side having impressed. It’s time to step up or go home.

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FIFA World Cup
France vs Argentina 
Round of 16 
Saturday 30 June    
Kazan Arena    
16:00

To Win
France 27/20 
Draw 2/1 
Argentina 47/20

France

France came into this tournament as strong contenders to be crowned champions of the world. In all honesty, Les Bleus haven’t done much to prove themselves as worthy contenders just yet.

Fair enough, we have just reached the Round of 16, but if you look at their performances against Australia (2-1), Peru (1-0) and Denmark (0-0), they were average at best. The French surely have enough quality in that team to steamroll any of the above-mentioned teams on a regular day.

Maybe I’m being too hard on them. After all, most teams only begin to shine from this stage of the tournament onwards and we can only hope that France pull up their socks and start playing the kind of football we know they can.

From the back to the front, Les Bleus have arguably the strongest and most well-balanced team (Including fantastic fringe players) in the tournament. It’s time for the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe to come to the party!

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Argentina

I hate repeating myself, but I can almost say the same for Argentina. La Celeste have failed to impress at the 2018 finals with Diego Maradona’s antics making more headlines. Well, in all fairness, they have made some headlines, but only due to their spectacularly poor performances.

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s men began the tournament with a surprise 1-1 draw against the tiniest nation (by population) to ever qualify for the World Cup – Iceland.

Okay, fine, it was the opening game and teams are still finding their feet, but there was no excuse for their 3-0 thrashing at the hands of a rampant Croatian side. That defeat left Argentina with a must-win game against Nigeria and they did just that as Marcus Rojo left it late with a well-timed volley into the bottom corner of the net.

They need to build on that but it will be easier said than done against the French. Messi has been a great leader but this is a team sport and the rest of his side need to show more character, guts and determination if Argentina are to progress to the next round.

Probable line-ups:
France: 4-2-3-1
Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba Kante; Dembele, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud

Argentina: 4-4-2
Armani, Mercado, Rojo, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Banega, Mascherano, Di Maria, Perez; Higuain, Messi.

Prediction:  Argentina (47/20)
France are likely to dominate possession with their superior midfield but I feel that might suit the Argentineans, who have a side built to counter-attack with pace and power. With that being said, I’m backing Argentina to grind out a victory.

Written by Aaron Crowie

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