Kazan Arena - World Cup Round of 16
After their late show against Nigeria, Argentina have been rewarded with a tie against France in the last 16 of the World Cup. La Albiceleste will need to raise their game again for this one, although Les Bleus are yet to fully fire this summer.
The two countries haven’t played each other since 2009, when Argentina won 2-0 in a friendly in Marseille. They’ve only met twice in the World Cup, and the South Americans have won both times. However, one was at the 1930 World Cup, and the most recent was in 1978.
Lucas Hernandez went off after 50 minutes of France’s goalless draw with Denmark on Tuesday, and the left-back is now a doubt for this game. However, Didier Deschamps can bring Benjamin Mendy into the side, as the Manchester City defender continues his recovery from knee surgery. The French boss will surely recall Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe.
Argentina have no injuries or suspensions after the group stage. Sergio Aguero was dropped for Gonzalo Higuain in the Nigeria game, but the Juventus striker didn’t do much and missed a golden chance at 1-1. His place could be under threat, while Cristian Pavon impressed against the Super Eagles and he could replace Enzo Perez or Angel Di Maria.
France v Argentina Preview and Predictions
We could hardly ask for a more mouthwatering fixture at this stage of the World Cup. France and Argentina have some fabulous players in their ranks, but neither country has hit top gear so far in Russia.
France made an excellent start in their first group game against Australia, but have faltered since. They still topped their group though, and they remain one of the favourites to win the whole competition. Les Bleus are 11/8 for the win inside 90 minutes, and 4/6 to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Argentina meanwhile have the look of a team in disarray. Head coach Jorge Sampaoli abandoned his favoured formation of three at the back against Nigeria, with reports of a player revolt against his tactics. He’s likely to stick with 4-3-3 here, although how much say the coach now has seems to be a matter of debate.
La Albiceleste are 27/10 to win this game in normal time, and 15/11 to qualify. The tie could be a very close one, so there’s a decent chance of there being extra-time and even penalties. With that in mind, the draw after 90 minutes is priced at 11/5.
Second half to be highest scoring at 6/5
The first half of this match is likely to be cagey, before two teams with an array of talented attackers go for it in the second period.
Both teams to score at at 6/5
Messi, Griezmann, Aguero, Mbappe, Higuain, Giroud, Di Maria, Dembele - with that group of players on the pitch, this looks like a safe bet, while over 3.5 goals is 23/5.