FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 – Uruguay vs France PREVIEW
We’re approaching the latter stages in the knockouts and this time round we have Uruguay facing France in the first quarter final of the tournament. Both teams have finally started to reach their peak form and they are doing so at the right time. Uruguay have been pretty much unbreakable at the back and their strikers are clicking, whereas France have picked up a goal scoring form in R16 and it looks like they are ready to go all the way. It’s a fight for a place in the Semi Final and it will be a dog fight between two excellent sides.
It’s been a tournament where Uruguay started off pretty slow, picking up tough 1-0 wins against poor Egypt and Saudi Arabia sides. However, as the opposition got tougher, the performance of Uruguay improved. They beat Russia 3-0 to top their group and set up a match against Portugal from which they came out winners 2-1. Uruguay have so far won every match in 90 minutes, they’ve done so by being very good at the back, the partnership of Godin and Gimenez has probably been the best at the tournament in general allowing opponents to score just 1 goal in the tournament. Godin has probably been the best defender during the tournament. But not only that their defending has been immense, Uruguay’s two strikers have improved as the tournament gone on. Although Suarez and Cavani just had 1 goal combined in the first two games, they’ve scored 4 combined in the last two games, 3 of those being Cavani’s of which one was assisted by Suarez. These two strikers are in top form and with those two clicking you’d have to say Uruguay can beat anyone especially the way they defend aswell. One worry that Uruguay to have coming into the game however is that Cavani did pick up an injury and had to be taken off so there could be a chance he doesn’t start which could be a huge blow for Uruguay. Midfield play would have to be Uruguay’s biggest weakness, but it hasn’t really affected Uruguay much. Bentancur and Torreira have been their best midfielders playing well which has helped Uruguay to keep that good balance around the squad. Just overall, it’s hard to find any weaknesses in Uruguay’s play so far other than sloppiness in the first two games which is pretty much forgotten now, they’ve been excellent against good teams.
It’s been an up and down ride for France during the world cup. They were heavily criticised for their performances in the group stages even after they topped it, but their performances were below their level. They beat Australia 2-1 and Peru 1-0 then drew 0-0 with Denmark. They looked woeful going forward, didn’t create many chances, got very lucky with some deflections going their way and came out of the group with a lot of uncertainty. However, in the knockouts we saw the French team we all expected to see from the start of the tournament. They beat Argentina 4-3 in a game where they trailed 1-2 but they showed mental strength and got back in it. Kylian Mbappe stole the show scoring two goals, while Pavard scored an absolute screamer to help France get back in the game. Going forward France looked absolutely amazing, they killed Argentina with their pace and were just too much athletically for them. Defensively, they did concede 3 goals, but it’d be harsh to say that they defender poorly, only one of the three goals that you could say were a defensive mistake when Aguero was left free, but the game was done then. The other two was a long range goal and a deflection. Now that France finally managed to click against Argentina, you’d have to say they have hit form at the right time. Mbappe Kante and Pogba have been their best players in this tournament. Griezmann did improve against Argentina, but can definitely get even better. Meanwhile their weakness full backs, have turned out really good in the last game so hopefully for France, Pavard and Lucas will bring confidence from that game and continue to play like that. To summarise, Mbappe is currently the man being mostly talked about and France have picked up goal scoring form at the right time. Matuidi will be suspended, however you’d have to say Tolisso is just as good and will be able to replace him.
Let’s begin with Uruguay. Tactically, Uruguay as mentioned above are a defensive side who take their chances going forward and then make it very tough on opposition to break them down. Gimenez and Godin is one of the best partnerships at the tournament and they’ve hit peak form at this tournament and have made it tough on everyone, including Ronaldo and Portugal. We’ve seen how clinical Uruguay are at this tournament and that’s thanks to their two strikers Suarez and Cavani. Overall these strikers are amazing all around players, have great chemistry because they’ve played 12 years together since the youth level. This Uruguay side has great chemistry all around and it makes it tough for sides to beat them. The keys for Uruguay to win is they need Cavani healthy coming into this game. Losing Cavani would be huge because they would lose that link up between Suarez and Cavani and coming up against such an attacking powerhouse, their backline might not be enough to win, they’d need both of their world class strikers. If Cavani is indeed out then he’d get replaced by Stuani who has scored 21 goals in La Liga for Girona, but let’s be honest he’s nowhere near as important as Cavani. And another key of course is the backline must perform the way it has, it’s the toughest test coming up for them and if their backline all of a sudden play badly then France will destroy them, but you wouldn’t expect Uruguay to crumble at the back. As for team news, other than Cavani potentially being out there should be no changes from the last game, Uruguay have no suspensions.
France like to play a more attacking style. France tend to play a 4-3-3 formation with 2 holding midfielders in Kante and Matuidi who will get replaced by another DM in Tolisso due to suspension. These two DM’s help free Pogba to be in more advanced positions and it caused opposition huge problems. Pogba has been very good throughout this tournament, he likes to join up to play with the front 3 of Mbappe Giroud and Griezmann. We should expect France to be in control of this game due to a better midfield, Uruguay will most likely give up possession for France like they did against Portugal and it’s important for France to be patient if the goals don’t come quick. They can’t allow themselves to get frustrated because Uruguay can punish them in a blink. France as mentioned could get lucky and Cavani may miss which could make it much easier to shut out Uruguay’s attack by simply shutting out Suarez. It’s important for France that their full backs Pavard and Lucas bring their form from the last game because that was their biggest weakness early in the tournament and if those guys perform the way they did against Argentina then France pretty much have no weaknesses and will be hard to beat. It’s just important that France don’t concede first, because at 0-0 you’d think with the way Mbappe and Pogba are playing and Griezmann/Giroud are capable of playing France will find a way eventually. Just don’t get frustrated if things don’t pan out early.
We gotta go with France for this game. The uncertainty of Cavani’s injury makes us think that even if he plays he won’t be 100% and with Uruguay missing their goal scoring machine they would all of a sudden lose one big part of their game which is Suarez/Cavani partnership and without one playing the other one will get taken out of the game and their best hope would just be holding out for 0-0 and pens. As good as Uruguay are at the back, it’s hard to see a side that features Mbappe Pogba and Griezmann not scoring. Mbappe and Pogba are in sensational form, their two DM’s have helped France stay solid and you’d expect Griezmann to continue on getting better as the tournament goes on like he did 2 years ago. France simply have better players and Uruguay missing arguably their best striker it’d be tough to see anything other than a France win. Prediction is 2-0 to France.
ODDS – Decimal
Uruguay Win (90 mins) – 4.60
Draw (90 mins) – 3.20
France Win (90 mins) – 2.00
To Qualify – Uruguay 2.75 – France 1.44
KICK OFF – 6th July 2018 – 3pm UK Time