Preview: Uruguay v France

Two previous champions will face off in the World Cup quarterfinals when 1930 and 1950 winners Uruguay face France, who won the title 20 years ago.

2018 FIFA World Cup
06 July 2018
Venue: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
Kick-off: 16h00 (GMT+2)

Referee: N. Pitana
Assistants: H. Maidana, J. Belatti
Fourth official: A. Faghani

Previous encounter:

Uruguay 1-0 France (Friendly) 05/06/2013

Uruguay goalscorer: L. Suarez (50′)

Players to watch:

Having scored the only goal the last time these two sides faced each other, Luis Suarez will probably be Uruguay’s main threat again.

Edinson Cavani limped off after scoring both goals in their 2-1 last 16 win over Portugal, and unless he can make a speedy recovery, Suarez will have to inspire Uruguay to victory without the help of the in-form Paris Saint-Germain star.

Suarez scored 25 goals in Barcelona’s triumphant 2017/18 La Liga campaign, but has only managed two in four World Cup games so far, which is respectable, but modest by his lofty standards.

Indeed, his tally so far has been topped even by 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who netted the winner in the group stage against Peru and a brace in France’s 4-3 last 16 win over Argentina.

All eyes are on the PSG youngster, who has drawn comparisons with Les Bleus legend Thierry Henry. If he can repeat his sensational performance against Argentina, France will be a difficult team to stop.

Team form and manager quotes:

Both teams head into the game in good form — Uruguay arguably more so than France.

Les Bleus got their campaign off to a stuttering start, beating Australia 2-1 and Peru 1-0 before drawing 0-0 with Denmark. Their 4-3 win over Argentina was a better advertisement for their attacking talent, but did refuel questions about their defence.

Uruguay looked comfortable — even if unspectacular at times — in Group A, beating Egypt and Saudi Arabia 1-0 each and Russia 3-0. Their 2-1 win over Portugal in the last 16 was a major statement of intent.

Despite their strong start to the tournament, coach Oscar Tabarez is staying grounded.

“We were not that far away from a very different result,” he said after the victory over Portugal, according to the BBC. “Up to yesterday people were saying ‘well, we won the group phase but the group was easy’. I don’t think Portugal was easy and what lies ahead won’t be easy.”

Tabarez’s opposite number, Didier Deschamps, is equally wary of the threat posed by La Celeste, and expressed his fear that France may not be able to come back if they fall behind, as they did against Argentina.

“It doesn’t change a thing if Cavani plays or not,” Deschamps claimed, according to FIFA’s website.

Team news:

For Oscar Tabarez, the major headache ahead of kickoff centres around Cavani’s fitness, while for Deschamps, the big question is who will replace the suspended Blaise Matuidi.

It is expected that Corentin Tolisso will be handed the honour, having played 15 minutes of France’s win over Argentina.