The opening clash of the World Cup 2018 Round of 16 in Russia seems to be a captivating one as two teams that have been underwhelming so far Argentina and France will be facing each other. Expectations were huge from the French side after wins against Australia and Peru but against Denmark, they managed to get only one point in a similar underwhelming fashion. Argentina on the other hand are shambles and open would be circumspect of this talented French squad and would be looking to improve their performance in the defensive side of the pitch.
• Date: 30th June 2018
• Time: 14:00 GMT/10:00 ET/19:30 IST
• Venue: Kazan Arena, Kazan
• Broadcast: Sony Ten 2
• Live Streaming : Sony Liv app
● Team News :
Deschamps has already shown that he is happy to mix up his squad, leaving it difficult to say which players will feature on Saturday’s Round of 16 fixtures against Argentina. Hugo Lloris will return in front of goal replacing Steve Mandanda, while Samuel Umtiti and Paul Pogba will feature in defence and midfield respectively replacing Presnel Kimpembe and Steven Nzonzi, but Deschamps has decisions to make regarding the makeup of his attack. Kylian Mbappe is expected to come in for Thomas Lemar.
Sergio Agüero who was a notable absentee in their last group stage fixture against Nigeria and he will be hoping to get another chance in the starting lineup after an ineffective performance against Nigeria. Franco Armani will almost certainly retain his place between the sticks after making an impressive debut in midweek against Nigeria. There are calls for Paulo Dybala to be given a chance to start, but Sampaoli is unlikely to select the Juventus playmaker.
● Probable Lineups :
Franco Armani; Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Cristian Pavón, Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero
Hugo Lloris, Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud
● Recent Form :
○ France: W D W W D
○ Argentina: L W D L W
● Coach’s Quote :
○ Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina): “I dream of an Argentina that plays with passion but also dominates with the football”. “If we can’t control the ball, it could become a physical match, and that won’t suit us at all. “We need to control the match, that’s our starting-point, we need to control the game throughout,” he said. “I’m sure France has a plan to neutralize Leo and we have a plan to get the best out of him, let’s see whose plan works best,” he added. “He’s the best player on earth but we also have other players that can cause France some problems.”
○ Didier Deschamps (France ) : “The only thing I’m focusing on is the match tomorrow,” Deschamps said Friday ahead of his 80th game in charge.“Our group games left a mixed impression, so I would dare to say that from tomorrow it’s a new start for us”. “It’s make or break. We don’t have any choice. We have to do everything possible to make sure it goes well for us”. “When you play Argentina and Messi, you have to look at every solution possible”. “The Argentines are a very experienced side. Look at (Javier) Mascherano, he’s nearly reached 150 caps, and they’re used to playing at the World Cup”.“We have a young team, but that doesn’t stop us being competitive.”
● Writer’s Take :
Argentina look like they are bland and they are going to be open but they have got arguably the best player in this world in Lionel Messi who can create anything from nothing and then we are looking at this French team who are currently catering super talented players like Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann who haven’t played particularly well but if they do they can rip this Argentine side apart particularly the Argentine defence. One can compare this Argentine side to Real Madrid last season who were terrible at the start of the last season and had calls for Zidane to go at the beginning of their Season, they had a terrible run in the league, yet they got it together when they needed to and this Argentine squad is full of experience, a team that featured in finals of the last World Cup but it is really difficult to make a case for this side. There is nothing that says that Argentina should win and yet this team has a life that they weren’t going to have and maybe that’s enough.