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World Cup 2018, France vs Argentina: Player Ratings

Owen Clouting
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
3.95K   //    01 Jul 2018, 10:20 IST

1st Group C v 2nd Group D: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
1st Group C v 2nd Group D: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

What an incredible match. It had everything, skill, strength, pace and some wonderful goals in a seven-goal thriller. The game twisted back and forth throughout the 90 minutes with both teams being ahead at least once in the match.

It was a great first half to start off the Last 16. France were by far the better side, showing much more attacking threat through strikers Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann and capitalised on this with an early penalty scored. Though minutes later, a thunderbolt from Di Maria levelled the scoring and La Albiceleste went into halftime all square. The Argentine's amazingly went ahead in the second half thanks to a deflection of defender Mercado and looked in the driving seat.

However, the quality of Mbappe burst through and he launched his nation into the quarter-finals with an unbelievable performance. Aguero got a goal late on, but it was not enough and Argentina crash out of the World Cup, leaving Messi still looking for his first goal in the knock out stages of the World Cup.

France Starting XI

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Hugo Lloris (C)

Considering Lloris conceded three goals in the match, he did not do much wrong all game. The goals came from a Di Maria's wonder strike which was hit with so much power there was no chance for the Spurs keeper, an effort which was deflected in by Mercado that wrong-footed him completely and a point-blank header into the bottom corner by Sergio Aguero.

All of these left Lloris no chance and were not really his fault. In spite of the goals conceded, Lloris was calm in distributing the ball and overall had a very good game. 7/10

Benjamin Pavard

Pavard was an absolute unknown to almost every football fan before the French squad was announced but, after his wonder goal, he may be remembered for many many more years to come. His curling outside of the boot strike from the edge of the box may go down as the goal of the tournament, leaving goalkeeper Armani with no answer.

The finish was crucial as it got France back on level terms and gave them the momentum to push on to win the game. Besides the goal, he had a fantastic performance anyway, with his runs down the wing always giving France an option in attack.

In defence, he also impressed and largely had the better of the dangerous Angel Di Maria. In summary a fantastic performance and one I'm sure he will never forget. 9/10

Samuel Umtiti

Umtiti was strong throughout and led the back four well. The Barcelona centre-half was always diligent with his defensive duties and barely put a foot wrong all game. His partnership with Varane looks to be very solid and France could become an incredibly difficult team to breakdown as this tournament goes on. 7/10

Raphael Varane

Varane was a dominating force in defence. Without a recognised centre forward to defend against for much of the game, Varane showed brilliant positional awareness and failed to let Messi dropping deep effect his blockade of the goal.

Some key headers from opposition set plays stopped the runs of Otamendi and Fazio and his quality today illustrates why Real Madrid rate him so highly. 8/10

Lucas Hernandez

The Real Madrid full back had a fantastic game and was a constant thorn in side of Gabriel Mercardo. His constant driving forward runs down the left pinned the Argentinean back constantly, who struggled to deal with his offensive ability.

The Frenchmen made two assists from dangerous crosses from the left and looked solid defensively all game. 8/10

Blaise Matuidi

Matuidi covered every blade of grass on the pitch today. His energy and tireless work rate gave very little space for Messi to exploit in front of the centre-backs. Partnered with N'Golo Kante, France have two of the best holding midfielders in the competition and Matuidi showed how good he can be against arguably the best player in the world.

He was booked during the game and substituted as a result, but he showed real class during his 75 mins on the pitch and deserved his round of applause as he left the pitch. 8/10

N'Golo Kante

Kante was at his disruptive best on the field. His constant stream of interceptions and tackles were key to the success of the French team, numbing the dangerous attacking play from Argentina.

If France are to continue to progress in this World Cup, Kante must stay fit and healthy because he is so integral in breaking down opposition attacks. 7/10

Paul Pogba

Pogba was impressive throughout the match and showed moments of why he is worth the £89 million that Manchester United spent on him. With two defensive minded players behind him, Pogba had the freedom to run with the ball and dictate the pace of the game.

His vision and passing prowess was evident for the world to see, as he dominated the midfield throughout the match. 8/10

Antoine Griezmann

Playing just behind Oliver Giroud, Greizmann was a constant handful for the Argentina back four. His pace in behind and willingness to receive the ball in tight spaces kept Mascherano on his toes all game, who largely struggled to handle the Atletico Madrid forward.

He coolly slotted away the penalty to give France the lead early on, having almost scored a wonderful free-kick just before, with his strike clattering against the crossbar. 8/10

Kylian Mbappe

Easily the Man of the Match, Kylian Mbappe showed how great his potential is, scoring two great goals to see his country into the next round. Mbappe was simply electric, he ran 70 yards past four defenders only to be taken down by Marcos Rojo for the penalty in the first half.

His pace and eagerness to run at the Argentine defence made him unplayable at times, with defenders having no choice but to foul the PSG striker in order to stop him. He took his goals very well finishing low past Franco Armani to push his team through into the quarterfinals. The last teenager to score two goals in a World Cup match was Pele and with Mbappe being only 19, who is to say that Mbappe will not go on to be one of the best of his generation, just like the legendary Brazilian. 10/10

Olivier Giroud

Giroud had a solid game at the top of the French line up. He used his strength effectively throughout and held up the ball well for the quicker players around him. He played a lovely pass to assist Mbappe's second goal and his style of play is clearly integral for this French team to succeed. 7/10

Substitutes

Corentin Tolisso

Tolisso appeared to enjoy his short time on the pitch, passing the ball well and attempting to break up play. Potentially later on in the tournament, he could feature heavily from the bench so it was good for him to gain some match sharpness 6/10

Nabil Fekir

Was not on the field long enough to make a difference but merely offered some fresh legs for his side, coming on for the tired Antoine Griezmann 5/10

Florian Thauvin

Thauvin made his competitive debut and what a stage to do it in, but unfortunately he was on the pitch for only 5 minutes so did not have long enough to make an impact. Nevertheless, it is a massive achievement for the young winger who has had such an incredible season at Marseille. 5/10


Argentina Starting XI

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Franco Armani

A disappointing game for the keeper. After being brought in after Cabellero's mistakes, Armani failed to nail down a place for the future with a couple of poor errors, one resulting in Mbappe's goal to make it 3-2.

The other three goals he could do very little about and his distribution throughout was good. In terms of rating, however, it can never be considered a good game for the keeper when you have to pick the ball out of your net four times. 4/10

Gabriel Mercado

A fiery performance full of passion was not enough to help Argentina defensively. For long periods he struggled against Lucas Hernandez as France put a lot of crosses in from this left-hand side which Mercado was unable to intercept.

He did get his name on the score sheet, although in reality the ball just deflected off him as he tried to move his foot out of the way, and inadvertently put the ball past a stranded Hugo Lloris. 5/10

Marcos Rojo

After his heroics to get Argentina through to the last 16 with an incredible finish against Nigeria, Rojo fell back down to earth very quickly. Next to Otamendi, Rojo was a liability throughout and really struggled to deal with the strength of Giroud and the pace of Griezmann and Mbappe.

His shocking positioning in the penalty incident meant Mbappe ran past him with ease and Rojo pulled Mbappe down for a stonewall penalty. He was never up with the pace of the game and was replaced by Fazio at halftime. 2/10

Nicolas Otamendi

By far the best of Argentina's defenders, Otamendi was calm and composed at the back and had improved massively from his performances during the group stage. Unfortunately, his centre back partners Rojo and Fazio lacked his ability in this game and Otamendi was left to be the one bright light in an otherwise very dark and dismal defensive display for Argentina 6/10

Nicolas Tagliafico

Tagliafico has had a good World Cup overall but struggled today. The left-back was up against wonder-kid Kylian Mbappe and was unable to stop the devastating runs of the 19-year-old.

While going forward he did have some limited success he was not good enough defensively, as the French right back Pavard also enjoyed attacking down the flank. To stop a player like Mbappe in that kind of form is incredibly difficult, but I'm sure Tagliafico will acknowledge that he could have done better. 5/10

Javier Mascherano

The enforcer in the centre of the park, Mascherano was tasked with the job of sitting in front of the back four and protect them from attacks coming from the French midfielders. However, time and time again his lack of pace was found out by Griezmann and especially Mbappe who ran the Barcelona man all over the park 90 minutes. 3/10

Enzo Perez

Perez has struggled to impress throughout this World Cup and has been a part of the central midfield issues which have plagued Argentina. Perez was completely outrun by Kante and Matuidi and was unable to stop the attacking threat from Pogba or Griezmann either. Overall it was a shocking performance and he was subbed by the manager in the 65th minute as a result. 2/10

Ever Banega

Banega has been one of Argentina's best players this World Cup. His creativity from the centre of midfield has been crucial for supplying Messi and the other forwards with through balls in order to give them a chance to score.

He was clearly earmarked as a player of concern by Didier Deschamps and was not allowed any time on the ball by France. As a result, he was unable to impose his creativity on the game and was largely invisible. 4/10

Angel Di Maria

It was a game of two sides for the PSG midfielder. Before his goal Di Maria had struggled massively to get into the game, being quashed over and over again by Benjamin Pavard. Yet, the one time he had space in the first half, he pulled out a moment of magic.

A rifle into the top corner changed the game and his confidence grew massively on the back of that. After this, he was one of Argentina's best players, but could not do enough to match the brilliance of the French at the other end of the pitch. 7/10

Lionel Messi (C)

Messi was once again left a frustrated figure for Argentina in possibly the last World Cup we will see him in. With the centre of the park being so weak today for Argentina, Messi kept falling deeper and deeper and failed in order to receive the ball, but consequently failed to deliver from the false nine attacking position.

His creativity and brilliance still shone through, setting up the last two goals for his nation in this tournament. However, it was not enough and as the result shows, even a player of Messi's quality cannot do it all by himself. 7/10

Cristian Pavon

Brought in instead of Dybala, Higuain and Aguero, Pavon had a great chance to prove himself in one of the biggest games in his young career so far. Unfortunately, he could not impress and put in an extremely weak display on the big stage.

Time and time again he received the ball in good positions but was either disposed easily or put in poor crosses which never once found their target in the box. He is still incredibly young and has a bright future ahead, but after this match there is only one young player we are talking about. 3/10

Substitutes

Federico Fazio

Fazio, unfortunately, left his remarkable Roma form in Italy, looking incredibly shaky at the back for the 45 minutes he was on. A mix up with the goalkeeper almost let Griezmann role the ball into an empty net and in hindsight, he was no better than Marcos Rojo who he replaced at half-time. 2/10

Sergio Aguero

Many were amazed when the Manchester City forward did not start the game and considering the impact he had when he came on, fans will struggle to find the managers reasoning for leaving him on the bench. The poacher took his goal in the 90th minute very well and who knows what he could have done if he was given more time on the field. 7/10

Maximiliano Meza

Meza has been largely ineffective all tournament and that did not change in this game. However, he was only given a short amount of time and could not really get into the game quick enough to have a real impact. 5/10

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Owen Clouting
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