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France vs Argentina
FIFA World Cup, Round of 16, France vs Argentina
|Kazan Arena, Kazan|
France have won a pulsating, high scoring, round of 16 clash 4-3 at Kazan Arena, knocking Lionel Messi’s Argentina out of the World Cup.
For all the talk about the Argentinian number 10, it was his French opposite number who decided this contest; Kylian Mbappe scored a brace and won the penalty that opened the scoring.
After receiving the ball in his own half, Mbappe simply ran past the defenders on his own from that position, until eventually Rojo brought him down in the box. Griezman converted the penalty in the 13th minute.
Argentina controlled most of the possession in the first half, with the French appearing content to sit back and counter at pace.
But Di Maria made them pay for that strategy with a thunderbolt strike in the 40th minute to restore parity.
The Albiceleste then took the lead early in the second half, after a shot by Messi was deflected into the net by Mercado, ultimately credited to the latter.
The French woke up at that point, and the lead lasted just nine minutes, after French full back Pavard equalised once more with yet another rocket of a shot, hitting a half volley absolutely perfectly into the top left corner from outside the box.
Then it was Mbappe’s turn to take control, showing perfect control and poise to score his first after controlling a loose ball and hitting it low and under Armani in the 64th minute.
His second came just four minutes later, as the Argentinian defence was opened up down the middle and Giroud’s through ball found Mbappe with pace once more, and he extended the lead with a smart finish to the keeper’s right.
Despite holding a two goal lead the French didn’t seem to have either the capacity or the desire to close the game down, and it continued fairly open. Messi worked tirelessly to open up the defence, and eventually in stoppage time found the perfect pass to Aguero who neatly converted one time for Argentina’s third, and a last final chance for his team.
But that was the end of the scoring, the French winning this extraordinary game to go through to the quarter finals, where they’ll meet either Portugal or Uruguay.
The knockout stages begin at the FIFA World Cup, as France play Argentina at the Kazan Arena. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from midnight (AEST).
After an interesting and sometimes unpredictable group stage, the round of 16 begins with a blockbuster contest between two former winners.
The French were generally comfortable in Group C, finishing top with 7 points. There were times however when they seemed to be struggling a little, and with only three goals to this point they haven’t quite got into full swing.
Argentina of course were never comfortable at all, and after drawing with Iceland and losing badly to Croatia, an 86th-minute winner gave them a 2-1 win over Nigeria. Just barely enough to progress.
There’s no question that Les Bleus have been the more impressive of the two teams playing tonight.
But equally there’s no doubt about the quality in the Argentinian team. Messi gets all the focus but the team is packed with world-class players across the pitch, bar maybe in goal.
Sampaoli has tried a lot of options just in the short span of this tournament so far. It’ll be interesting to see if he goes with the same lineup that beat Nigeria or if he continues to make changes hoping to find the perfect combination.
Deschamps also has decisions to make for France – he has tried different configurations in the midfield but possibly the most has seen Matuidi played on the left.
Giroud appears settled up front as the number 9, and expect to see the French continue to target him with Griezman and Mbappe alert to the chances he can create.
Maybe if Argentina had another game or two before this one to truly recover some form and confidence you might give them a shot. As things stand though the French appear much more ready for such a big game early in the knockout stages.
France to get through to play the winner of Portugal and Uruguay later tonight.
France 2 Argentina 0