Today brings us to the second phase of first round knock out games in the World Cup, and what a surprising group stage it has been, seeing the elimination of Germany and the qualification of Japan and the super late qualification of Argentina, to name a few shocks, thus far. So, it’s all to play for today as France face off against Argentina and Uruguay take on Portugal.
At 15:00pm (GMT) and 16:00pm (CEST) France come into this match, after a steady but not too impressive group stage performance, and the same but worse can be said about Argentina, who left it late with a 2-1 victory of Nigeria, in order to qualify with only 4 points, whereas France got 7 points.
For France, Samuel Umiti remains a doubt but he could start in defence, with manager Didier Deschamps a little disappointed with the 0-0 draw against Denmark, after fielding a slightly weaker side and looks set to field his strongest squad. Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba will be key in this match, and Lucas Hernandez will keep his place at left back. Corentin Tolisso may also start, but faces competition from Blaise Matuidi.
For Argentina, Lionel Messi scored a wonder goal of precision and skill against Nigeria, and with Marcos Rojo’s half volley to make it 2-1, which sent the Argentinians through. It seemed clear that manager Jorge Sampaoli relied heavily on Lionel Messi in that match and was even seen on the sidelines, asking Messi for advice on if he should bring on Sergio Aguero. Is Messi the new manager of Argentina? Well, this could very well be the case and it seemed to work in the lats match.
Enzo Perez could come into the side, but Banega, Mascherano, Otamendi and surprisingly even Messi, are only one booking away from suspension, so they’ll have t be careful. Argentina may field the same 11 players as in their last match, but can they win today to knock out France? We suspect a close match, but with the earlier problems in Argentina’s performances, we wonder if their only win against Nigeria, is enough of a unification match as a squad, to see them overcome France today.
Match Prediction: France v Argentina 2-1 or Result France Both Team to Score: Yes
In today’s other match at 19:00pm (GMT) or 20:00pm (CEST) sees Uruguay v Portugal, in what could be called Luis Suarez against Cristiano Ronaldo, but with plenty of other big names to watch out for.
Uruguay have Betancur one booking away from suspension, with Jose Gimenez expected to be fit in time for this match, whilst Lucas Torreira is also expected to retain his place after impressing in the tournament. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will provide a real attacking threat, that the Portugal defence may have a hard time with, which may make in-form goalkeeper Rui Patricio very busy this evening.
Portugal played impressively against Spain, but less so against Morocco and clearly were overall very disappointing against Iran and just scraped through, but they could just as well have been knocked out at the last gasp by Iran. Manager Fernando Santos could bring Joao Moutinho back in central midfield, and Ricardo Quaresma could start after his signature wonder goal, playing down the right wing. Andre Silva looks set to partner Cristiano Ronaldo in attack and this is going to be a physical and very dirty match, we suspect, but with Portugal doing enough to win. This match could even be decided on penalties, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. However, this is the most exciting part and what the World Cup is all about and we can’t wait to see what happens today.
Match Prediction: Both Teams to Score and Portugal to Qualify
Story by The Narrator
Featured Photo Credit: