Saturday 30 June at 16h cet.
Why? The knock-out stages of this world cup kicks off with a blast of format. Two countries that advance in the titelfavorieten counted were, two ex-world champions, but both could not impress during the group stage. That applies mainly for the Argentines, who are but just able to post for the eighth-finals, in the last groepsmatch Nigeria to beat (2-1) thanks to a late goal from defender Marcus Rojo. Also France played so far moderate on Russian soil. Especially the unnecessary last groepsmatch against Denmark (the first 0-0 of the tournament) was a mockery of the level of football that a world cup expected. Can Les Bleus finally make a statement and their titelambities force? Or to surprise Lionel Messi and Co?
The French, with Didier Deschamps as a tactical brain along the touchline, going from a solid defensive organization, and count in the front on the speed and youthful frivolity of toppers Mbappé, Griezmann and Dembélé. Or Pogba from the second line. Argentina on the other hand excelled so far in tactical chaos, culminating in the piece of nervous theater from coach Jorge Sampaoli against Croatia (3-0 loss). It seems as if the cast of actors are dropped off from their coach, and, under the leadership of Lionel Messi, the reins herself has taken. Rely the Albiceleste on their experience: with Messi himself, Aguero, Higuaín, Otamendi, Mascherano and Dí Maria is there in abundance. Also Ever Banega is deemed to be in the base to remain standing after his good performance against Nigeria. That makes that the average age of the expected basiselftallen 25 years (France) versus 30 years (Argentina). France leaves as a favorite, but in a knock-out stages and provided a good day of the stars, of course, can everything. Against Nigeria showed Lionel Messi already signs of regained freshness – witness his masterful openingsgoal -, can he continue that trend or hit he is entangled in the tactical web of Deschamps?
Player to look out for? Lionel Messi. It can be the best footballer on this planet to finally score in the knockout stage of a world cup? That’s him, strangely enough, and despite the finalist of the previous world cup in Brazil, yet never succeeded. The Argentine press is convinced: not Sampaoli but Messi puts the team on. Therein strengthened by the images of during the match against Nigeria when the coach to his star player went questions or Aguero had to be inserted. A crazy scene. The Barcelona star is carrying the weight of an entire nation, what him -not a born leader – often did collapse under the pressure. Now more than ever, it seems, as a player-coach. Against Nigeria we saw, however, a freed Messi.
Interesting is also the battle on the midfield. Where Pogba, gradually also back to his best form growing, compared to Mascherano. There, we dare to still gamble on an unleashed Pogba who gradually retirement Mascherano in the destruction plays. In the group stage had already proved several times how the Argentine midfielder is hopelessly over run is when the tempo goes up. And let that physical force majeure just one of the greatest qualities of the Man You are-spindle. PP has the key in hand for Les Bleus.
History? France and Argentina were a total of eleven times against each other, won the South Americans six, in France only two. It is a friendly in 1986 ago that France could win. The Rooster will therefore be their ‘black beast’ to tame the world cup dream alive. In 1978 saw both teams meet each other for the last world cup. The Argentines, under the leadership of Daniel Passarella, took the measure 2-1, and stoomden then to the world title.
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