FIFA World Cup talking points: France VS Argentina

In the first FIFA World Cup match in the knockout stages, France battled Argentina for a spot in the quarterfinals and the Frenchmen pulled through with a big 4-3 victory to send the 2014 runners-up packing.

It was a thrilling encounter with great goals from both sides and the match almost came down to the last touch of the game when the Argentines almost levelled things with a dramatic goal.

However, the French squad proved to be too much across 90 minutes and are now ready to meet Uruguay in the next stage.

Here are a few talking points regarding that last-16 match-up.

MBAPPE EMERGES IN THE GRANDEST STAGE

Already highly touted as a talent at only 19 years old, Kylian Mbappe has erased all the notions that he is a prospect with his incredible performance against Argentina.

The teenager scored twice to sink the South American squad and looked like he was a gear ahead of any Argentine defender looking to reach him in a foot race.

Mbappe won a penalty after racing towards the box and beating Marcus Rojo to the ball with a beautiful poke that resulted in the Argentine defender physically wrestling him to the ground to stop him from scoring. Naturally, it would be whistled as a penalty and Antoine Griezmann would calmly slot the ball in for the lead.

The youngster would break the deadlock in the second half with two goals in four minutes to give the French team a 4-2 lead and he was easily the best player on the pitch full of stars.

NOT SHORT OF BEAUTIFUL GOALS

This World Cup has not been short of beautiful goals and this clash between Argentina and France produced two exquisite volleys, one from each side.

The first one came from Argentina’s Angel Di Maria who has been criticised in the competition from performing below par.

However, in one instance, he swung his left foot for a sublime finish just outside the penalty box to level the score at 1-1. The ball was around 30 yards away and bent from left to right to go beyond Hugo Lloris’ reach.

Not to be outdone, the French got their own goal-to-remember from Benjamin Pavard after picking up a pass just to the left of the Argentina goal. Pavard’s attempt put so much back spin on the ball that it was basically unpredictable where it could land and the Argentina defence could only look helplessly.

It was an important goal as it would level things and swing the momentum back to the Frenchmen.

TACTICAL DISCONNECT?

In this World Cup, Argentina’s form and tactics have often been questioned and it reared its head again in their last-16 battle against the French.

Battling a team with so much talent, many argued that Argentina’s defence, which has been subpar to say the least, would be in for a long night. In the early stages of the game it was already apparent.

In comes the question whether Jorge Sampaoli’s tactics are to blame with how the South American team played against France.

With a squad full of capable players on the offensive end, it was clear that the only way Argentina could have beaten the French was to make sure they scored as much as they could as their defence would not be able to stop France from netting goals as well.

Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain were all on the bench to start the game and it limited Argentina’s targets whenever they had possession.

Among those mentioned, only Aguero made an appearance in the game and people are only left to wonder if Dybala and Higuain could have made any difference if they were on the pitch looking for that extra goal to tie the match-up.

MESSI’S CURTAIN CALL

With their World Cup campaign finished, the attention now turns to whether Lionel Messi has played his final game for his national team.

Arguably one of the greatest of all time, the Argentine has failed to bring home the World Cup trophy for his country and many are now speculating that he will soon retire and concentrate on club football.

Already having retired once, Messi’s disappointing end to this competition may result in him finally realising that he may not have enough weapons around him to reach the mountain top and just call it quits for the last time.

Recently turning 31 years old, Messi will be 35 by the time the next World Cup arrives and fans are only left to hope whether he will suit up for one more attempt at glory.

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