FRANCE vs ARGENTINA: The race to hold the most coveted trophy aloft intensifies as the first game of the Round of 16, France vs Argentina, is all set to get underway. While Argentina’s journey to the last 16 wasn’t less than an overly dramatised movie, France, on the other hand, were effective only in bits and pieces. Les Bleus have undoubtedly one of the best squads in the tournament, but it’s the 90 minutes that are really going to matter on the field. The finalists of the 2014 World Cup take on the finalists of the 2016 Euros. Who’s going to advance through to the Quarter-finals? The tournament has just begun at its earnest best. We bring to you, Fantasy football tips, match insights and a lot of stats. Whose side are you on for this nail-biter?
JOURNEY TO THE ROUND OF 16
– Drew 1-1 against Iceland
– Lost 3-0 to the dynamic Croatian side
– Beat Nigeria 2-1 in the most stunning fashion. Marcos Rojo producing the winner in the 86th minute.
– Took the Aussies down 2-1
– Beat Peru 1-0. Kylian Mbappe the scorer on that occasion.
– Finished the game on parity against the Danes. 0-0
WHEN: JUNE 30th, 7:30PM IST
WHERE: KAZAN ARENA, KAZAN
Only one injury concern for France. Benjamin Mendy suffered an injury in the game against Denmark and is likely to miss this fixture.
Argentina are likely to field the same eleven that beat the Nigerians.
EXPECTED PLAYING 11
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris
Defenders: Benjamin Pavard, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Lucas Hernandez
Midfielders: N’golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi
Strikers: Oliver Giroud
Goalkeeper: Franco Armani
Defenders: Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico, Gabriel Mercado, Marcos Rojo
Midfielders: Enzo Perez, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega
Strikers: Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain/Sergio Aguero
LIONEL MESSI vs N’GOLO KANTE
This will be a battle between resilience and dexterity. N’golo Kante is a machine. There’s no denying that fact. He’s been Les Bleus’ best player of the tournament and one arduous task for him against the Argentines will be to mark the great man, Lionel Messi. Kante is omnipresent. He’s defending, attacking and if given a pair of gloves he might as well come up with some cracking saves. That’s how marvellously good he is.
Having said that, he’ll be up against no ordinary man. The greatest footballer on the planet after a nerve wrecking victory against Nigeria will be flying high with confidence and once Messi hits that zone, it’s extremely difficult to stop him. Can Messi outwit Kante or will the Frenchman be too sturdy to get past? The battle between Messi and Kante will be one for the ages and when the stakes are this mighty high, the best produce the best.
Messi in WC 2018: Minutes played: 270, Goals: 1, Dribbles/game: 6.7(most by any player)
Kante in WC 2018: Minutes played: 270, Accurate tackles: 2.
FANTASY FOOTBALL TIPS
While Messi is the obvious choice for a forward, N’Golo Kante won’t be fetching you more fantasy points. Instead, having the likes of Paul Pogba or Angel Di Maria or Ever Banega will be more lucrative.
In defence, Varane and Otamendi will be good choices. These two centre backs are known to slot in goals as well.
FANFIGHT FANTASY TEAM FOR FRANCE vs
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France and Argentina will be facing each other for the 12th time. Argentina have won 6 games, 3 draws and France have won only twice.
Lionel Messi is yet to score in the knockout stages of the World Cup. He’s played 666 minutes without getting on to the scoresheet.
Only three players for Argentina have scored in 3 different World Cups. Diego Maradona, Gabriel Batistuta & Lionel Messi.
Olivier Giroud hasn’t hit a single shot on target in this year’s World Cup having spent 200 minutes on the pitch.
France have lost only one of their last 11 games in the knockout stages of the World Cup. They’ve won 8 and drawn 2. The only defeat came against Germany in July 2014 who were the eventual winners.
France have every department on the field sorted while the Argentinians have been lacklustre so far. Argentina’s frailties were exposed in the defeat against Croatia. Having said that, the victory against Nigeria will be a huge morale booster for the La Albiceleste and that’s what precisely Messi and co needed. For this fixture, France vs Argentina, the men in white and blue are the favourites. Our prediction, 1-0 Argentina.
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Also, check out our previous match previews.
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