France v Argentina: Combined XI
On Saturday, France play Argentina in the first, and probably most attractive, of the World Cup round of 16 matches. Neither of the teams set the world alight during their group matches, but they certainly have the players who could do the business when it comes down to the big games.
France snuck past Australia and Peru in their first games, before playing out a bore draw with Denmark in their final group game. They needed an own goal from Aziz Behich to beat the Australians, before Kylian Mbappe netted the winner against Peru. In doing so, Mbappe became the youngest player to score for France at a major tournament.
There are still doubts though about team selection, and the performances of some top players, including Paul Pogba, who has continued the below average form he put in for Manchester United last season.
Argentina required a win over Nigeria in their final group game to secure progression to the round of 16. They could only draw with Iceland in their first match, with Lionel Messi missing a penalty, before a poor performance against Croatia saw them beaten 3-0. Marcos Rojo was the unlikely here in the game with Nigeria, scoring a brilliant volley with just a few minutes left to send them through.
They are another camp that still have a number of issues, with reports suggesting that Jorge Sampaoli no longer has control of the players, and it was them who were responsible for picking the team to face Nigeria.
These are the players that would make up a combined XI of the two sides.
Hugo Lloris (France)
Questions were raised over Lloris’ form for Tottenham at times last season, but he is still a top-class goalkeeper. He is a key player in this French side as well, and is undoubtedly their number one. He hasn’t been tested too much in the tournament so far, but expect him to be busy if France go much further in the competition.
He hasn’t got too much competition from Argentina in this category. Willy Caballero was dropped after a shocking error against Croatia, and replaced by Franco Armani for the game against Nigeria, who made his international debut.
Gabriel Mercado (Argentina)
He’s not one of the better known names in the Argentina squad, but Mercado has had a decent tournament so far. He has been one of the better defenders in a pretty poor backline, and put in the cross to set up Rojo for his winning volley against Nigeria.