FIFA World Cup 1st Knockout Round Preview
The Football World Cup in Russia is now heading for the business end of the tournament and half of the participating 32 teams have been eliminated, and the ones that remain now have no room for any slip ups as one defeat from this point on means they will be heading home.
The World Cup so far has given the fans some excellent entertainment, lots of dramatic twists and turns and plenty of upsets, none bigger than the early exit of defending champions Germany, who were among the favourites.
Some star players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane have lived up to their reputation while others such as Messi have struggled to light up the World Cup so far.
With the start of the Knockout rounds, for the teams that remain, it's a fresh start and any slip up will undo the previous good work to get into the knockout rounds.
So let's take a look at the fixtures, how the games are likely to turn out and who the likely winners will be:
France vs Argentina
France vs Argentina will kick off the World Cup Knockout round, and it is a true clash of two football heavyweights.
France sailed through to the Knockout rounds with reasonable comfort defeating Australia and Peru, and drawing with Denmark. The French side and their coach did get some stick from the fans despite the wins, but when are football fans completely happy with their team.
Argentina struggled to get into the knockouts as they drew their opening game against the underdogs Iceland and were crushed 3-0 by Croatia and were minutes from elimination before securing a last gasp winner against Nigeria to seal their knockout round spot.
France boast of a very sound mix of extremely talented youngsters coupled with experienced defenders and most of the squad has been in form, with Griezmann, as expected, leading the way, very ably supported by Pogba and Mpabbe.
The trio will pose a very big threat for the Argentina defense, which has appeared very shaky so far.
Argentina have looked very sluggish, tired and have lacked the cutting edge so far in the World Cup. Even though they possess some true world class players such as Kun Aguero and di Maria, they have looked more and more like a one man team. With Messi struggling for form a little bit, Argentina have struggled.
A sluggish display against France will prove to be very expensive for Argentina and they need all their players to be firing on all cylinders to stand a chance.
Result - Argentina have the potential to defeat any side in the competition, but their players have lacked form and over-reliance on Messi has stifled his impact on games. France boast of some very talented young, but experienced, players and their pace upfront and creativity should be enough to secure a win against a struggling Argentina.