Argentina vs France

FIFA World Cup 2018: Riding on a million prayers, Argentina take on France

KAZAN: “They are breathing down your neck, you are running out of life,” goes the song. The Albiceleste are living on the edge, but the Argentinian fans are singing a different tune.

Earning a last-gasp ticket to the Round of 16, Argentina arrived in Kazan, the industrial hub on the confluence of Volga and Kazanka, on the wings of a million prayers, desperate to repeat their coup, this time against the French on Saturday.

France, guided by their 1998 World Cup-winning captain Didier Deschamps, cruised to the Round of 16, rather relaxed, but their placidity has led to a lot of criticism back home. On the contrary, Jorge Sampaoli just about managed to pull Argentina through to the knockout stage – in the face of rumours of getting sacked, player rebellion and “fighting for reality against the virtual”. Lionel Messi finally shed his cloak of despair for factory overalls and Marcus Rojo’s 86th-minute winner carved Argentina’s passage to Kazan.

Despite having attracted unappetizing headlines back home, the easily-distracted Frenchmen have not lost the desire to fight and look unusually focused. Leave alone unrest, not even a word of whining has emerged from the French fortress. Samuel Umtiti, Messi’s Barcelona club mate, said: “We’re working to improve, to play a bit better, because we can do it.

But the most important thing will be to win, because if we go all the way, even if most people are not pleased by our football, everybody will be happy and we won’t hear any more that the football was lacking.”

Having spent most of his Thursday’s press meet discussing Messi, Umtiti admitted knocking Argentina out would give him added satisfaction.

It sounded like routine talk, like France’s two wins and a draw in the group phase, in contrast to the dramatic life of their opponents. Fumbling against Iceland, thrashed by Croatia, Sampaoli struggled through the chaos to get his first XI right.

Gerard Houllier, who assisted Aime Jacquet in his successful 1998 World Cup campaign, has made an interesting point in his column for a French publication. The former Liverpool manager argues that Argentina run the risk of an emotional meltdown after their last-minute high to secure qualification. He has cited the example of Germany who failed to muster up enough energy against South Korea following their miraculous victory over Sweden.

Criticised for not having set the tournament on fire, Deschamps knows how to go about it from personal experience. The pace of Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe down the flanks is the newest weapon most defenders are wary of. The worrying point for Argentina is that Gabriel Mercado and Nicolas Tagliafico are not known for handling pace well.

Even Nicolas Otamendi and Javier Mascherano struggled to keep an eye on Ahmed Musa the other night in Saint Petersburg. With Pogba, Ngolo Kante, and Blaise Matuidi in midfield, and twinkle-toed Antoine Griezmann up front, France look upbeat. Still, Les Bleus do not have a Messi who takes a wink to come alive, sensing before anyone that Ever Banega has found his range.

Argentina vs France

World Cup 2018: Argentina vs. France odds, lines, expert picks, and insider predictions

Argentina are looking to put their tricky World Cup start behind them against 1998 winners France in the last 16 on Saturday.

A 1-1 draw with minnows Iceland and a humbling 3-0 defeat to Croatia left the 2014 finalists on the verge of elimination, but a 2-1 win over Nigeria saw Argentina through in second place.

Jorge Sampaoli’s position was reportedly in doubt before that crucial Nigeria victory, but the Argentina coach is now looking forward to playing 1998 winners France in the last-16.

Saturday’s star-studded 2018 World Cup showdown between Argentina and France is must-see material. Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann are just a few of the top-tier players who will be showcasing their talent on the world’s biggest stage on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET. France enters this marquee matchup at +135 on the money line, meaning you’d need to bet $100 on a French victory to win $135. Argentina is +240 (wager $100 to win $240), while a draw in regulation is +200. The over-under on total goals scored in this 2018 World Cup fixture is 2.

Before you lock in your 2018 World Cup picks, you need to see what European football expert David Sumpter has to say. Sumpter is an applied mathematician who wrote “Soccermatics,” a book that explains how math works inside the sport. Along with other experienced analysts, Sumpter developed the powerful Soccerbot model.

The Soccerbot reads current odds and all team performance data, calculates key metrics and predicts upcoming matches. In nearly three seasons since its inception, the Soccerbot is up an incredible 1,800 percent on bookmakers’ closing odds.

The Soccerbot has already nailed draws for Argentina-Iceland (+385) and Brazil-Switzerland (+360). It also correctly predicted Iran upsetting Morocco at +275, just to name a few of its big calls. Anyone who has followed it is way up.

Now, the Soccerbot has digested the film, crunched the numbers and broken down every single player on France and Argentina. The model has released a very strong money-line pick, which it’s sharing only over at SportsLine.

The model knows France will be facing Argentina for the first time ever in the knockout stage of a World Cup. This is the first fixture at the 2018 World Cup that pairs two previous World Cup champions against each other.

France enters this match still looking to find its best form. Les Blues topped Group C, but failed to impress while doing so. However, France’s defense has stifled its opponents thus far in Russia 2018. France has only conceded five shots on target in its three group games, with the only goal allowed being a penalty in France’s 2-1 victory over Australia.

The model also knows Argentina didn’t qualify for the Round of 16 until the final minutes of its third game. After a shocking draw with Iceland and a 3-0 blowout loss to Croatia, the team edged Nigeria, 2-1, to advance to the Russia 2018 knockout stage.

This World Cup notwithstanding, France has lost just once in its last 15 matches. Argentina, meanwhile, is in a long slump, having won just four of 14.

However, the Albiceleste have Messi, the top scorer in team history and one of the most successful players in the history of the game. And they won’t have to face Germany, which has knocked them out of the last three World Cups.

France vs Argentina

The first match of the knockout stages will see 2-time World Cup winners Argentina facing off against 1-time winner France in what looks to be the match to look forward to in the round of 16 fixtures.

France vs Argentina: World Cup 2018 last 16 prediction, betting tips, odds, live stream online, kick-off time, team news and line-ups, what TV channel, head to head

Argentina’s road to the knockout stages was far from comfortable as they started off their campaign against Iceland in a lacklustre draw that saw Lionel Messi missing another penalty kick as well as being manhandled by the Icelandic players after a Sergio Aguero goal had given Argentina the lead. The lead only lasted for 4 minutes as Iceland drew level as Alfred Finnbogason scored for Iceland resulting in the match ending 1-1.

The second match saw Albiceleste facing off against a Croatian side high on confidence, after winning their match 2-0 against Nigeria. In one of the shocks of the tournament, Croatia outclassed the Argentinians 3-0 to leave them at the mercy of a Nigerian victory over Iceland.

With a lifeline offered by Nigeria, as they won 2-0 against Iceland Argentina prepared for their match against Nigeria with Lionel Messi taking the mantle from their coach Sampaouli, with a victory and nothing else separating Argentina from the knockout stages. It was the man himself, their Messiah, Lionel Messi who scored the first goal of the match. Nigeria soon drew level as Victor Moses cooly tucked home a penalty after Mascherano was deemed to have fouled a Nigerian player inside the box.

The final minutes of the match saw Argentina mounting attack after attack in search of their elusive girl which would take them to the knockout stages. Finally, they broke through as Marcus Rojo scored the decisive second goal of the match as whole Argentina celebrated their goal. The final whistle of the match ended with Argentina 2 Iceland 1 with Argentina qualifying to the knockout stages as runners-up in Group D.

Will the real France finally turn up?

With a young and vibrant France whee touted as one of the favourites to win the World Cup this year. But an unimpressive campaign that saw France scraping through Australia with a 2-1 victory courtesy of an Australian own goal as well as a 1-0 victory over Peru. The last match of the group C saw France facing off against Denmark, in a match that ended a run of 37 games without a goalless draw in the World Cup as France drew 0-0 against Denmark helping them qualify as Group C champions.

Argentina predicted XI: Franco Armani, Marcus Rojo, Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico, Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez, Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain.

France predicted XI: Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele; Olivier Giroud

Head to Head Stats

This is the first fixture between two previous World Cup champions in this World Cup.

Argentina has registered 6 wins and only lost 2 against France in their previous 12 meetings. This will be the first time that these two teams have met in the knockout stages of the tournament.