World Cup 2018: France vs Argentina - preview, team news, predicted XI, prediction, head to head, & interesting stats
The first match of the knockout stages will see 2-time World Cup winners Argentina facing off against 1-time winner France in what looks to be the match to look forward to in the round of 16 fixtures.
Argentina's road to the knockout stages was far from comfortable as they started off their campaign against Iceland in a lacklustre draw that saw Lionel Messi missing another penalty kick as well as being manhandled by the Icelandic players after a Sergio Aguero goal had given Argentina the lead. The lead only lasted for 4 minutes as Iceland drew level as Alfred Finnbogason scored for Iceland resulting in the match ending 1-1.
The second match saw Albiceleste facing off against a Croatian side high on confidence, after winning their match 2-0 against Nigeria. In one of the shocks of the tournament, Croatia outclassed the Argentinians 3-0 to leave them at the mercy of a Nigerian victory over Iceland.
With a lifeline offered by Nigeria, as they won 2-0 against Iceland Argentina prepared for their match against Nigeria with Lionel Messi taking the mantle from their coach Sampaouli, with a victory and nothing else separating Argentina from the knockout stages. It was the man himself, their Messiah, Lionel Messi who scored the first goal of the match. Nigeria soon drew level as Victor Moses cooly tucked home a penalty after Mascherano was deemed to have fouled a Nigerian player inside the box.
The final minutes of the match saw Argentina mounting attack after attack in search of their elusive girl which would take them to the knockout stages. Finally, they broke through as Marcus Rojo scored the decisive second goal of the match as whole Argentina celebrated their goal. The final whistle of the match ended with Argentina 2 Iceland 1 with Argentina qualifying to the knockout stages as runners-up in Group D.
With a young and vibrant France whee touted as one of the favourites to win the World Cup this year. But an unimpressive campaign that saw France scraping through Australia with a 2-1 victory courtesy of an Australian own goal as well as a 1-0 victory over Peru. The last match of the group C saw France facing off against Denmark, in a match that ended a run of 37 games without a goalless draw in the World Cup as France drew 0-0 against Denmark helping them qualify as Group C champions.
Jorge Sampaoli is expected to make an unchanged starting XI for the first as Argentinian coach. Enzo Perez has a slight thigh problem but is expected to be fit for the match against France.
Didier Deschamps is expected to call back the players he rested against Denmark. Benjamin Mendy is expected to sidelined due to a muscle injury while Djibril Sidibe might get the nod ahead of Benjamin Pavard.
Possible line-ups for the teams
Argentina predicted XI: Franco Armani, Marcus Rojo, Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico, Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez, Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain.
France predicted XI: Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele; Olivier Giroud
Head to Head Stats
This is the first fixture between two previous World Cup champions in this World Cup.
Argentina has registered 6 wins and only lost 2 against France in their previous 12 meetings. This will be the first time that these two teams have met in the knockout stages of the tournament.
The French are yet to lose in their last 8 World Cup matches against South American opponents at the World with last one coming 40 years against Argentina. Since the introduction of the round of 16, the French have qualified to the World Cup Quarterfinal each of the time they have entered.
French coach Didier Deschamps will be looking to seal of his 80th match as head coach of France when he takes his team to the field today. This would make Deschamps as the longest French manager.
The French haven't lost in their last eight World Cup matches against South American opposition at the World Cup, since a 2-1 defeat to Argentina in 1978.
Argentina has been involved in a record 5 penalty shootouts in the World Cup with winning 4 of the 5 shootouts, both of which are a Wolrd Cup record. The Argentinians are yet to taste defeat in their last 27 matches when they have ended the first half leading.
Argentina vs France, Round of 16:
Match Date: 30 June 2018, Saturday
Match Timing: 19:30 IST
Match Venue: Kazan Arena, Kazan, Russia
This one is gonna be greatly contested match between two equally good teams. But France with its pacy nature might go through as the victors in this group as the Argentinian side are very slow in their defence area.
France 2-1 Argentina