Big Match Breakdown: France v Argentina
Last-16 kicks-off with a titanic clash
We all had a day to catch our breath after those hectic two-weeks of swashbuckling group-stage football.
One thing is for sure though; there will be new champion come the 15th July. South Korea’s two-goal salvo against holders Germany was perhaps where the action all peaked.
France take on Argentina in the last-sixteen curtain raiser today. Neither side have looked entirely convincing, although France topped their group with two wins and a draw.
Argentina had a surprise hero in Marcos Rojo, who scored the pivotal winner against Nigeria.
That was the game when Lionel Messi finally came to the fore in this World Cup after his magical opener. And that set’s this one up to be an intriguing encounter.
The first game the duo ever played was in the 1930 World Cup group-stage. Argentina ran out 1-0 winners.
The most recent meetings came in the late noughties.
Argentina won both meetings, 1-0 in 2007 and 2-0 in 2009.
France have only beaten La Albiceleste twice. Their last victory came in 1986 with a 2-0 win in Paris.
After making a few changes to the side against Denmark, Didier Deschamps will shuffle the pack once again.
Kylian Mbappe is expected to come back into the side for Ousmane Dembele. It looks like Olivier Giroud will keep his place which will mean a potential three-pronged attack of Mbappe, Griezmann and Nabil Fekir behind him.
Paul Pogba should replace Steven N’Zonzi in the midfield. Samuel Umtiti may come in for Presnel Kimpembe.
Argentina also heavily rotated against Nigeria as they went in search of the vital win to keep them in the tournament.
Goalkeeper Franco Armani should remain between the sticks. Reports suggest Jorge Sampaoli will go with the majority of the same elven as against Nigeria.
That’ll mean no place for Sergio Aguero but Cristian Pavon could replace Gonzalo Higuain.
After notching what some are calling the goal of the tournament, Lionel Messi finally arrived in Russia against the Super Eagles.
Argentina had stalled up until that point but with Messi in full-flight they can look a different beast.
It will be up to Raphael Varane and Umtiti to keep him quiet.
The midfield battle will be where the game could be won and lost.
Argentina’s Ever Banega impressed in his first start against Nigeria. But if N’Golo Kante and Pogba can get a strangle-hold it could sway it for Les Bleus.
Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann linked up impressively in the Euros two years ago.
If they can get on the wave-length here, it could cause problems.
France are 4/6 favourites to qualify with Coral’s traders.
Whilst you can’t say either time are at their free-scoring best, they are conceding a few as well. Both teams to score is at 11/10.
Over 2.5 goals is 8/5.
Lionel Messi to pick up where he left off and notch the first in the game is 4/1.
Rojo to repeat his dramatics and score Anytime is 16/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing