FIFA World Cup 2018 Round of 16 predictions
After 15 days of exciting football action, we have come to the end of the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. We witnessed quite a number of upsets during the group stages. None bigger than defending champions Germany getting knocked out in the group stages for the first time in 80 years. Argentina was also on the brink of elimination until they grabbed a late winner to send them through. Just 3 nations finished with a perfect record in the group stages, namely - Uruguay, Croatia, and Belgium. Oh, and who can forget the role VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has played a part in the tournament already. Although a few decisions were contentious, most of them was a right call.
Now after a day's break, the knockout stages will commence. The most exciting stage of the tournament is about to begin. Extra time and penalties come into the picture to decide games and also the 4th substitute rule. If a match goes into extra-time teams will be allowed to make a 4th substitution. Without further adieu let us take a look at the 8 matches over the 4 days beginning on Saturday.
Match #1 - France vs Argentina
Two of the pre-tournament favourites - European giants and 1998 World Champions France and South American giants and 2-time World Champions Argentina, go head to head in the tournament much earlier than expected. Both the teams haven't lived up to their expectations so far. Both teams have an exciting array of attacking talent but have scored a measly 3 goals in the group stages which is certainly a cause for worry for both the managers. They will be looking to make a statement as the business end of the tournament begins.
France start as favourites thanks to their defence which is and has been more solid compared to the South American nation. In terms of attack, both teams are more or less equally matches as they are blessed with exciting talents. France have Griezmann, Mbappe, Dembele, Pogba, and Lemar while Argentina has Messi, Aguero, Higuain, Di Maria and Dybala. As we have seen often when two teams with plenty of firepower go head to head, the team with the better defense has come out on top and hence France could well do the same as they have Varane and Umtiti at the heart of the defense with Kante and Matuidi who shield the defense and both are renowned ball winners. Add to that they have a top class keeper Hugo Lloris in goal. Argentina on the other hand still relies on the ageing Mascherano to shield their defence with Otamendi leading the line at the back, who unfortunately hasn't been able to replicate the form he showed with this club this season so far in the tournament. Caballero was replaced by Armani in goal for their final and must-win group game and he looked much more reliable which should give Argentina some confidence.
Prediction - France 2-1 Argentina