Thursday, September 20, 2018

Prediction: France vs Argentina

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 7/6

Bookmaker: 888sport

Having sluggishly secured a top spot in Group C off of a goalless draw with Denmark, France have scheduled a Last-16 meeting with its fellow underachievers Argentina who struggled to a great extent to seal progression into the knockout stage of the World Cup.

France

Euro 2016 finalists France are having an underwhelming World Cup campaign in Russia. The boundlessly talented squad with some of the world’s most exciting prospects such as Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba or Nabil Fekir is simply not living up to the hype at the tournament.

With back-to-back wins by single-goal margins in their first group games, Didier Deschamps’ men did just enough to secure progression into the next phase of the competition before the final clash against Denmark. France made a couple of chances to the starting line-up with Nabil Fekir and Steven N’Zonzi shoehorned into the squad to further add to a dilemma regarding Didier Deschamps’ ability to lead this team. A mundane standoff came as a result of Deschamps’ lack of gut in going forward and his apparent inability to harness the attacking potential of his squad. On the bright side, France are coming off from a fantastic run which saw them lose just once in last 15 games and will look to extend it against the below-par Argentina.

Team News

Hugo Lloris is expected to reclaim his starting place from Steve Mandanda.

Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba are also expected to be given a nod from the off as Deschamps looks to field his strongest possible side for the Argentina cruncher.

Argentina

With a squad list that raised plenty of eyebrows in Russia and a manager who lacks tactical vision to get best of his team at the helm, Argentina have come under fire for their performances in Russia.

Jorge Sampaoli’s men opened the tournament with a 1-1 draw against resilient Iceland whereas the devastating 3-0 defeat at the hands of rampant Croatia came as quite a disappointment. With their Last 16 chances hanging by a thread, Argentina needed a win over tricky Nigeria in the final group game. Sampaoli’s side has been criticised for its reliance on Leo Messi but it was exactly the Barcelona wizard who inspired his teammates to a late 2-1 victory. Jorge Sampaoli’s decision to start with Ever Banega was key to unleashing Leo Messi and getting the best out of his creativity upfield. His classy opener gave Argentina a much-needed boost whereas it was Messi’s halftime team-talk that inspired the Gauchos to fight until the very end and get rewarded for it with Marcos Rojo’s dramatic late winner. Argentina will have gained a massive morale boost and will head into the Last 16 clash against France in a much better mood.

Team News

Ever Banega is expected to be given an extended run in the team following his impressive performance against Nigeria.

Sampaoli could opt to start with Kun Aguero whose flamboyance and off-ball movement could be the key in breaking the lines of the French defense.

Key Factors to Consider

  • France are unbeaten in their last games in all competitions
  • Argentina conceded 15 goals in their last seven matches
  • Messi’s goal vs Nigeria ended his 662-minute goalless WC run
  • France managed to keep a clean sheet in 2 of their last 5 games
  • Over 2.5 goals were scored in 5 of Argentina’s last 7 outings

Conclusion

France and Argentina go head to head in a mouth-watering Last 16 clash with both teams hoping to improve their performances and to finally hit the top gear in Russia. It’s been an underwhelming campaign thus far for both Deschamp and Sampaoli’s men and a positive appearance against one of the world’s top sides would be highly beneficial for either side here.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 7/6

Bookmaker: 888sport

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