The score does not reflect the performance in France’s 4-3 win over Argentina. Les Bleus, strongly criticized after their dismal game versus Denmark, upped their gear against the Albiceleste. Kylian Mbappe won a penalty and scored 2 goals to send Lionel Messi out of the World Cup. In the other game of the day, Edinson Cavani’s double saw Ronaldo and Portugal eliminated. The World’s two best players in recent history are going back home.
On paper, France have one of the best squads on the tournament so they are always held to ridiculously high expectations from their supporters. Didier Deschamps, captain of the 98 World Cup winning team and the coach who took France to the final of Euro 2016, has been much critized for failing to gel this young, talented team. Today, France announced themselves to the World in grand fashion!
From the beginning till the end, they showed pace and great technical ability and finally played like a team. Mbappe was unstoppable on the day. Griezmann showed his quality on set pieces and converted a penalty. Benjamin Pavard out of all people scored a screamer. Varane marshalled the defence well with Umtiti. Lucas Hernandez was as always running back and forth on the left, putting in some dangerous crosses. Paul Pogba showed his extensive skillset. Short passes, long passes, dribbles, ball protection, interceptions – he did it all! Shoutout to Ngolo Kante and Matuidi for their hard work!
The last French goal showed some amazing teamwork with the ball passed from the defence and half the team contributing. This French team is growing as the games progress and it would not surprise us if they upped their gear even higher in the next game.
Uruguay control Portugal
Uruguay showed their defensive prowess against a Portuguese side full of offensive talent. The Uruguayans defended excellently and kept a compact midfield, relying on Edinson Cavani to win the game. Diego Godin was again brilliant. The only mistake from Uruguay was on a corner, when Pepe was left free to equalize after Cavani had opened the score.
For his first, Cavani did a 1-2 with Suarez across the field and on the return pass from the Barcelona striker, hit the ball with the head and shoulder to make it 1-0. The second goal was a beautiful curved shot, one of the best finishes we have seen at this World Cup.
Ronaldo & Messi are out
Current European champions Portugal exit the tournament at the Round of 16 stage. We might not see Cristiano Ronaldo at a World Cup again. He will be 38 at the next one. But then again this is Cristiano! He might just play and outscore everyone in 2022.
We do not know if Lionel Messi will keep playing for the national team. His teammate Mascherano has already retired from international duty. Messi retired after the last Copa America final defeat to Chile but came back when Edgar Bauza took over the national team. We hope to see La Pulga at yet another World Cup. He will be 34 at the next one and still capable of putting in match winning performances.
France v Uruguay
The first quarter final will be France v Uruguay. French fans will not want to remember the 2-0 defeat at the 2002 World Cup which eliminated the then World Champions France at the group stage itself. This should be a tight game.
We fantasize France might just edge Uruguay out 1-0 and meet Brazil in the semifinals for a 1998 final remake! We are hopeless romantics 🙂
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