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Team Ethic vs Individual Talent as Uruguay Meet France


We are fast approaching the business end of the 2018 World Cup.  The first of the four quarter-finals will take place on Friday at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium as Uruguay meet France.

Uruguay have won the competition twice in their history but you must go back to 1950 to find the last time they lifted the trophy.  Having reached the semi-final in 2010, Uruguay will be hoping to match that performance in 2018.

France were left reeling at the end of the 2016 European Championship as they lost 1-0 to Portugal in the final. This match presents an opportunity for France to reach their first World Cup semi-final since 2006 in Germany.

Uruguay were drawn in a group with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the hosts, Russia.  Having defeated both Egypt and Saudi Arabia 1-0, Uruguay produced their best performance of the tournament to beat Russia 3-0 and top Group A.

What followed was a tough Round of 16 match against Portugal.  Edinson Cavani scored two good goals as Uruguay defeated the Portuguese 2-1 and fully deserved their place in the quarter-final for the way in which they played.

Uruguay do not have a star-studded midfield but they do have players who work well in a system. With Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez in defence and Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up-front, they have world class quality at both ends of the pitch.

France started their 2018 World Cup campaign with a less than impressive showing against Australia.  A late deflected goal gave them a 2-1 win and another narrow victory followed against Peru, with France winning 1-0.

Qualification was secured ahead of the final group game against Denmark and the teams played out a 0-0 draw, which saw France finish top of the group.

The reward for winning the group was a match against Argentina in the Round of 16.  The South Americans had yet to impress in the tournament and France exploited the gaps in their defence to score 4 goals, including one from the penalty spot.

It was an excellent attacking display from the French but they did concede 3 goals themselves and this will be a slight concern when going up against Suarez and Cavani.

Looking ahead to the team news and Uruguay are sweating on the fitness of Cavani.  The Paris Saint-Germain striker has scored 3 goals at the World Cup but left the field early against Portugal with an injury.  There is a fear it could be a hamstring injury which will see him miss the rest of the tournament.  Christhian Stuani could come in to replace him.

France could name the same team which started the match against Argentina.  Benjamin Mendy is the only injury doubt for Didier Deschamps and if fit he is likely to be on the bench.

This is going to be an extremely close game.  France looked very good against Argentina but Uruguay will not give them the same amount of space in which to break.  France have the superior individual talent but Uruguay are a great team and if they can frustrate the French we could see another upset at the 2018 World Cup.

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The 2018 World Cup Round of 16 has produced a couple of all-European ties and one of them sees Croatia play Denmark.

Croatia are looking to recreate their special moment in France 1998, when they went all the way to the semi-final only to lose to the hosts and eventual winners, France.

Denmark have twice been to the Round of 16 at the World Cup but have never been beyond the quarter-final stage. This match presents a decent opportunity for Denmark to progress in the tournament.

Having been drawn in a group with Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland, Group D looked very tough for Croatia.  However, they made light work of the opposition and comfortably defeated Nigeria 2-0 in their opening match of the tournament.

What followed was an excellent performance against Argentina to defeat the South Americans 3-0 and keep Croatia at the top of the group.  Although Argentina were poor, it was a great result for Croatia and made the other teams in Russia take note.

The final match of the group saw Croatia rest many players but they still came out on top against Iceland, winning the match 2-1 and securing top spot in the group with maximum points.

Denmark also had a difficult group to contend with but got off to the best possible start by defeating Peru 1-0.  The Danes were on the back foot for long periods and conceded a penalty but somehow managed to come through to win the game.

Having taken the lead early against Australia, the Danes were expected to win that match with ease but allowed Australia back into the game via the penalty spot.  Denmark failed to break through a second time and were forced to settle for a point.

The final match of the group, against France, was going to be their toughest test.  However, with the French already through and the other game going their way, Denmark played out a boring 0-0 draw to seal qualification.

Looking ahead to the team news and Croatia will welcome back several players who were rested against Iceland.  Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Rakitic, Domagoj Vida and Mario Mandzukic are among those to come back into the team.

Denmark are unlikely to make many changes from the 0-0 draw against France.  Christian Eriksen will play in midfield alongside Thomas Delaney and Mathias Jorgensen with Simon Kjaer captaining the team in defence.  The main consideration will be who to play up-front and out wide for Denmark.

Croatia have been scoring goals for fun in this tournament and have netted 2 or more goals in each of their three matches.  This suggests they are clicking as an attacking unit and they will hope that continues in this match.  Denmark will make it difficult for their opponents but it’s Croatia who have the better quality in attacking areas and they should come through this match, scoring a couple of goals in the process.

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The Round of 16 at the World Cup often produces one or two matches which are deemed good enough for the final.  We have one such game on Saturday 30th June as France and Argentina meet in Kazan for a place in the 2018 World Cup quarter-final.

The French came into the tournament on the back of a disappointing Euro 2016 final and will be hoping to put that behind them with a good performance in Russia.  Argentina struggled to qualify but now they are here they have one eye on the trophy.

France were favourites to top Group C but were never going to have things their own way in a group which contained Denmark, Australia and Peru.

Their first match was against Australia and despite taking the lead, France needed a late deflected goal to defeat Australia, who were deemed the weakest team in the group.  The following match was against Peru, who played well but could not force the breakthrough.  A single goal from Kylian Mbappe was enough to secure another 3 points for the French.

France knew they had done enough before their final match against Denmark.  With Peru beating Australia in the other game, neither team needed to win and the game was played out as a 0-0 draw.

Argentina started their World Cup campaign with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Iceland.  Having taken the lead, Argentina missed a penalty and were forced to settle for a draw with the European minnows.

Things got a lot worse for Argentina in their second match against Croatia.  There was no organisation or discipline to Argentina’s game and they fell apart in the match, conceding 3 goals without reply.

Argentina knew they needed to win their final match against Nigeria to qualify for the Round of 16. A moment of magic from Lionel Messi, his first real contribution to the tournament, saw Argentina take the lead but they were pegged back from the penalty spot.  However, a late goal from Marcos Rojo was enough to send Argentina through.

Looking ahead to the team news and France are expected to make several changes to the team which started the Denmark match.  Paul Pogba, Hugo Lloris and Kylian Mbappe are all expected to return to the team.  There are doubts over central defender Samuel Umtiti but he should recover in time to play.

Argentina have every player fit and available.  That could mean the same starting XI from the match against Nigeria and no place in the team for Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero.  Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi and Nicolas Otamendi must be careful as they are one yellow card away from suspension.

This has the makings of a thrilling World Cup game.  France know they need to keep Messi quiet and if they do that, should have enough to win.  Expect to see goals scored at both ends of the pitch but for the quality of the French to shine through and win the game.

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World Cup 2018: France


France are one of the favourites going into the World Cup 2018. There is a lot to love about Didier Deschamps’ team.

France have talent all over the pitch and the team may have the best striker in the world right now in Antoine Griezmann.

The French are coming off of a runner-up finish at the Euro 2016 tournament, but can they parlay their success in the UEFA tournament onto the world stage?

The French will play in Group C and will kick off their campaign against Australia on June 16. Deschamps’ team will then play Peru on match day 2 and finish the group stage on June 26 against Denmark. France are expected to go through as Group C winners and most sportsbooks are more concerned with which team will come second. There is plenty of reason to be confident that France will win Group C.

Griezmann will be France’s most important player. Forget Paul Pogba and his everchanging attitude, Griezmann makes the French run. Griezmann topped the goal scoring charts at Euro 2016 and he has the chance to do it again this summer. If France make the round of 16, the team will have at least four games for Griezmann to score goals. However, France should make it to the quarterfinals, giving him at least five matches to tally goals.

This will be Deschamps’ second World Cup in charge of the national side. He took France to the quarterfinals in Brazil in 2014. This may be France’s most talented squad of all-time and Deschamps has already shown he can take the team deep into tournaments. Deschamps not only coached France to the Euro 2016 final two years ago, but the manager was a part of the France’s 1998 World Cup winning team.

Some football experts say France are favourites to win the 2022 edition of the tournament rather than this year’s event. Those experts believe France’s players need further seasoning before they are ready. However, the team looks just as likely this summer to win the tournament as ever. The team’s youth is one of the things that makes it so exciting. Griezmann will be joined by players Kyliann Mbappe, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir. The team is exciting and look far more dangerous than FIFA’s No. 1 ranked Germany ahead of the tournament.

France looked impressive in their three World Cup warm-up matches. The team defeated Ireland and Italy before drawing with a United States team desperate to make up for missing the tournament. France will top Group C. The knockout stage draw will be the deciding factor in a World Cup final appearance or not.

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France and Serbia level at 1-1 as Tsonga beats Djere

LILLE, France – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga claimed a no-nonsense 7-6(2) 6-3 6-3 win against Laslo Djere as France drew level with Serbia in their Davis Cup semi-final after the first singles on Friday.

Les Bleus fell 1-0 behind after a nervous Lucas Pouille slumped to a 6-1 3-6 7-6(7) 7-6(5) defeat by Dusan Lajovic.

French number one Tsonga got off to a slow start as world number 95 Djere held throughout the opening set, but the 2008 Australian Open runner-up served three aces to take the tiebreak easily.

He was then rarely troubled in a one-sided encounter on the indoor claycourt in the Pierre Mauroy stadium.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are expected to give the hosts a 2-1 lead in Saturday’s doubles against Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic.

It did not go as planned, however, for Pouille.

The world number 22 was way too shaky in Lille and rapidly fell behind against world number 80 Lajovic, bowing out after saving five match points.

”This is what Davis Cup is about,“ said Serbia captain Zimonjic. ”Both players gave everything – they fought until the end.

“We know we need a miracle to win this tie but we believe in our team.”

France were heavily favoured with Serbian former world number one Novak Djokovic absent. But Pouille looked nervous early on, spraying the court with unforced errors while Lajovic made the difference with his forehand.

Pouille fought back to force a tiebreak. But despite the loud backing of the crowd, the Frenchman wasted a set point before handing the set to Lajovic when he fired a forehand wide.

The Frenchman turned the situation around in the second set as Lajovic started to struggle with his forehand. But in the fourth set, the Serb broke early on and set up a match point at 5-3.

Pouille saved it and broke back for 5-4. He then saved three consecutive match points on serve in the 12th game, but lost the tiebreak after a brief interruption as Lajovic was suffering from cramps.

(Julien Pretot)