France take on Argentina in the first knockout game in Kazan on Saturday afternoon and it’s a match featuring two footballing heavyweights. France haven’t been as impressive on the pitch as they are on paper this tournament, while Argentina have been wholly unimpressive so far and were fortunate to make it to through the group stage.
France topped Group C with two victories over Australia and Peru, as well as a goalless draw against Denmark, which was enough for both teams to progress from the group. They’ve scored just three goals in the tournament so far and many would have expected them to have been among the forerunners such is the quality their squad possesses. That hasn’t been the case so far, but they could become a serious contender if they win comprehensively over Argentina.
Argentina though have struggled throughout the tournament and they only just made it through the group, beating Nigeria in their final group game with a late goal from Marcos Rojo. There’s been a breakdown in the relationship with the players and Jorge Sampaoli, the coach, while it seems as if Lionel Messi is now leading the team. That worked against Nigeria, but it might not work against a high-quality opponent like France, who have the talent and guile to break through a fragile defence.
France vs. Argentina Predictions
France have never been knocked out at this stage of the tournament and it’s unlikely that it’ll be any different this time around. Argentina look fragile and probably shouldn’t have made it through the group. However, France have been poor in spells this tournament. This will be a fascinating game that might even go to extra time, with Didier Deschamps’ side narrowly winning.
France vs. Argentina Betting Tips
- France to win 3-1: 23/1
- Lionel Messi to score anytime: 6/4
- France to score over 1.5 goals in 1st half: 15/2
Head to Head
- France and Argentina will be facing each other for the 12th The South Americans hold the upper hand with six wins to two (D3), keeping a clean sheet in eight of their previous 11 encounters with the French.
- Argentina have won their two W. Cup encounters with France, back in 1930 (1-0) and 1978 (2-1). On both occasions, they reached the final, losing it in 1930 and winning in 1978.
- The last South American team to beat France at the W. Cup were Argentina in 1978. Since then, France are unbeaten in eight W. Cup fixtures against CONMEBOL opposition (W4 D4).
- Argentina have gone past the first round for the 12th time in their last 13 W. Cup appearances, the only exception coming in 2002. Their last four knockout games in the tournament have produced only three goals (2 goals for, 1 against).
- Penalty shootouts excluded, France have lost only one of their last 11 games in the knockout stages of the W. Cup (W8 D2), that came against eventual winners Germany in July 2014 (0-1).
- Since the introduction of the round of 16 in 1986, France have always made it past that stage whenever they’ve reached it (1986, 1998, 2006. 2014).
- France only conceded five shots on target in their three group games at W. Cup 2018. The only goal they let in came from the penalty spot (Mile Jedinak for Australia).
- Argentine forward Lionel Messi has never scored in the knockout stages of the W. Cup: 666 minutes, 0 goals. He is the last Argentinian player to score against France, back in February 2009 in a friendly (2-0).
- Lionel Messi is the third Argentinian player to have scored in three different W. Cup tournaments, alongside Diego Maradona (1982, 1986, 1994) and Gabriel Batistuta (1994, 1998, 2002).
- France’s Olivier Giroud has failed to score in his last 357 minutes at W. Cups/European Championships, his longest drought at major tournaments, with his last goal dating back to the Euro 2016 quarter-final against Iceland. He’s yet to register a shot on target at this year’s W. Cup, having spent 200 minutes on the pitch.
- Didier Deschamps will be taking charge of his 80th game as France manager, a new record as he overtakes Raymond Domenech.
France Team News
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)
Argentina Team News
Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting CP), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Paulo Dybala (Juventus) Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)