World Cup 2018: 3 key battles to watch out for - Argentina vs France
The first World Cup round of 16 match between two footballing giants - Argentina and France will be played on June 30 at the Kazan' arena. It is going to be an enthralling encounter between two heavyweights, and it will keep their respective fans on the edge of their seats.
Argentina had a roller-coaster journey in the group stage. Despite being held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Iceland and suffering a humiliating defeat to Croatia, Argentina were able to keep themselves alive due to their lucky 2-1 win against Nigeria. The positive thing for them is that Lionel Messi scored against Nigeria and hence he is peaking at the right time for Argentina.
France on the other hand, topped their group by beating Australia in a 2-1 thrilling encounter, achieved a 1-0 victory against a stubborn Peru defense due to Mbappe's goal and were held to a 0-0 draw by Denmark in their final group stage game. France has a talented squad, capable of winning the World Cup.
Argentina has a better head to head record against France, having beaten them 6 times and losing only twice. It will be a completely different ball game on Sunday, hence that record won't matter to the players as they take to the pitch.
Let us have a look at 3 key battles which might decide the outcome of the game on Saturday.
#3 Pogba vs Mascherano
This battle between an experienced midfielder on one hand and a very talented young midfielder on the other, will be a fascinating and well-contested duel to watch out for. Both of them have had a decent World Cup so far and will be looking to dominate possession for their respective sides.
Being regarded as a good passer, Mascherano is also very physical and has the ability to time his tackles to perfection. Pogba is an excellent dribbler, a renowned playmaker, and a dead ball specialist.
Mascherano will be responsible for man marking Pogba and will also stop him from creating opportunities for France. He will also have to be careful about Pogba's speed, agility, and technical skills which might beat Mascherano's experience on some occasions in the match.
Pogba has completed 95 successful passes and has a pass accuracy of 72.3 percent in the opponent's area at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Mascherano has completed 264 successful passes and has had 80 percent success at tackling.
This is going to be a heated battle between two fierce competitors, and we might see some heated moments between these two on Saturday.