Uruguay and France kick off the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup tomorrow in Nizhny Novgorod. Uruguay have conceded just one goal on their run to the last eight, while France only came to life in their last-16 match with Argentina, which they won 4-3.
Uruguay v France
Uruguay’s Standout Players
It’s clear that the deadly duo of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez will have an impact on the game. Two of the best strikers in the world playing on the same side can only be a good thing for Uruguay. However, one man finally getting the recognition he deserves is their centre-back, Diego Godin.
Godin has been at the heart of a solid defence that has conceded just once, against Portugal, this tournament. They kept three clean sheets from three group games and rarely looked threatened at the back, and that will be needed again as they come up against a rapid and clinical French attack.
The key battle is likely to be Godin against France’s Olivier Giroud, but their wing-backs will also have a big task on their hands with the pace of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele. This will be by far the hardest test Uruguay have faced so far and it will be interesting to see how they cope.
France’s Standout Players
The aforementioned Mbappe lit up the World Cup with his performance against Argentina in the previous round. The youngster became the first teenager to score twice in a single World Cup game since Brazillian legend Pele as he netted twice in four minutes against a lacklustre Argentinian defence.
It’s likely that Mbappe will be in the spotlight again for this game to see whether he can continue his scintillating form.
As well as the boy-wonder up front, the midfield pairing of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba will be as important as ever as they will look to control the area of the pitch where Uruguay are arguably the weakest.
The Last Word
This is going to be an incredibly tight game, but France are likely to see much more of the ball while Uruguay stand firm at the back. There’s no reason why Uruguay cannot get a goal or two on the break, but the constant French pressure will tell in the end and send them through to the last four.
Prediction: Uruguay 1-2 France