By: Drew Haggerty
The first matchup of the 2018 FIFA World Cup knockout stage has #5 world ranking Argentina facing off against #7 world ranking France. However, like many of the worlds top teams, neither country has found its stride in the tournament thus far. The 2014 finalists are coming off shaky group stage play with a 1-1 draw against Iceland and a surprising 3-0 defeat to Croatia. Thanks to Marcos Rojo, Argentina were fortunate enough to squeak by Nigeria 2-1, and finish second in group D. While France should be the favorite in this match, they themselves have not played to their full potential, after only winning by one goal against Australia and Peru, and drawing 0-0 to Denmark.
With that being said, France is too good for Argentina’s current form, and an old Argentinian squad will be exploited by a young and explosive French attack. While Argentina is expected to have the same Starting XI as they did against Nigeria, the French side will look vastly different, as Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, and Kylian Mbappe will look to return to the starting lineup. While there is some doubt surrounding Samuel Umtiti and his injury, the return of Benjamin Mendy sheds some positive light on the team as a whole. My prediction is a 2-0 victory by France, and a place in the quarterfinals against either Uruguay or Portugal.
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