The knockout rounds are just hours away as the race towards champions of the world restarts after a day of rest. And what a match to start with – one of the tournament favourites France Vs an all time favourite Argentina. It’s the promise of a young, vibrant French Vs the class of an underperforming diminutive height player donning the number 10 jersey for the blue and white.
Cutting down the emotions away, I think Argentina is going to win this match because of the reasons mentioned below. I might be proven wrong badly, but that’s the life of football, that too in a world cup ! So, let’s roll out my thoughts and take a risk of being trolled by my friends after the match!!!
- For the first time in this world cup, Argentina will play not as a favourite but as an underdog. This will no doubt ease the pressure on the team which will be a much awaited temporary break from the boiler situation they were in a few weeks ago. This will help them play naturally without worrying too much on the final outcome
- On the other hand, France will be under big time pressure. Not just the pressure of being tagged as the favourites, they also know that in the group matches, they were not “tested” that much with Peru, Australia and Denmark. Even though they topped the group comfortably, which is a big contrast of how Argentina qualified for the knockouts, they will surely realise that the benefits of playing against strong teams is much more important than just galloping to the top of a much weaker group
- France’s strength has been their midfield play with quality players like Pogba, Kante, Lemar and others. However, if their performances in the group stages is of any indication, their passing play and going to attack is lacking pace by a big margin. This should allow the Argentina defense to regain positions quickly and counter their attacks effectively. Further it is Pogba who is the midfield general for France, he is the person who is pivotal to the passing. There has to be a defensive blocker from Argentina who should not give much space to him and frustrate him to make mistakes. Also, so far we haven’t seen much wing play by the French as well – they more rely on breaking the defense from the middle. Effectively what this means is Argentina should play in 4-4-2 formation with clear instructions that the defense should try and narrow the field of play so that it becomes crowded on top of their box during French attack
- The striking force of France is quite erratic. Giroud is a player who tends to miss 4 to 5 chances before converting one. Griezman is all class, but is looking quite below par in this tournament. Mbappe is talented, but again yet to make that mark. So with proper zonal marking followed by man marking Griezman, the Argentina defense should be potent and strong
- Now coming to Argentina. They should play 4-4-2 strategy with high press game so that the pressure is built in their midfield and not just in their penalty box. Banega playing is a must as he will be the key player with the long searching balls. Higuain probably should play first so that he can put physical pressure both in terms of strength and height. If after a half he is unable to make any impact, then Aguero should be brought in. I would personally prefer to have Pavon in their first eleven because of his speed on the right wing. Di Maria should go all out today and make his mark. It’s a do or die for him as throughout the tournament he was in the periphery. He should torment the French defense from the left.
- And finally, that man Messi should not think of any pressure and just enjoy his game. He surely will not get any space to move – so he should hold the ball that much which is required to draw out 3 or 4 defenders to encircle him. Once that is achieved, he should no longer hold but release the ball quickly for the others to capitalise on the space created. Who knows if another Banega’s defense splitting through lands to Messi and he can recreate the magic once again !!
The odds are against Argentina, the quality of the teams is against Argentina, the current form is against Argentina. But, as they say, matches are played on the day and it’s not always the best team wins!