The 2018 World Cup quarter-finals are kick off in mouth-watering fashion as Uruguay meet France at Russia 2018.
The South Americans have been defensively well organized all tournament but also had their attacking chemistry at play in the 2-1 win against Portugal, with Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez linking to devastating effect up front.
According to AP, France picked up two trophies in 1998: One, of course, was the country’s only World Cup title, won on home soil. It was also the birth year of Kylian Mbappé, the 19-year-old who’s emerging as one of the biggest stars of the World Cup.
It will be France’s searing speed led by Mbapé and Antoine Griezmann against Uruguay’s defence anchored by Diego Godin on Friday in Nizhny Novgorod in the World Cup quarter-finals. The winner will face Brazil or Belgium.
Uruguay has given up only one goal in four World Cup matches, and France has scored seven – the most coming in a 4-3 victory over Argentina in the round of 16.
In scoring twice against Argentina , Mbappé became the first teenager with multiple goals in a World Cup knockout game since a 17-year-old Pele did it twice (including a hat trick against France) in 1958.
It’s a big stage with inevitable comparisons that Mbappé smiled about and then batted away.
“Well, that was a good year for him to be born, even if he didn’t see much of the 1998 World Cup,” joked French coach Didier Deschamps, who was the captain of that championship squad. “I’m very happy that Mbappé is a French citizen.”
French need to tighten up a defence that leaked three goals against Argentina in the last round. But if Kylian Mbappe is on the same scintillating form in attack, Uruguay's formidable backline will have plenty on its plate too.
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After sustaining an injury against Portugal, Uruguay's Edinson Cavani will most likely miss the squad's quarterfinal matchup versus France. How will Uruguay bode without one of their star strikers?
“It’s flattering to be the second one since Pele,” said Mbappé, born in France to a father from Cameroon and a mother from Algeria. “But let’s put things in perspective. Pele’s another category.”
This is France’s seventh quarter-final and its fourth in the past six World Cups dating back to 1998 and the famous side led by Deschamps, Patrick Vieira, Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry – the so-called Rainbow Team from a multicultural France.
“In a World Cup you have the top-level players,” said Mbappé, whose club team is Paris Saint-Germain. “So it’s an opportunity to show what you can do and what your abilities are. There is no better place than a World Cup.”
After three lacklustre games in group play, France was electric in its most recent match, particularly in the second half when it cut up Argentina’s plodding defence. Five of France’s starters in the first group match had never played in the World Cup, including Mbappé.
Uruguay vs France takes place on Friday, July 6 at the 45,000-capacity Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Russia.
Suarez’s running mate, Edinson Cavani, scored both goals in the knockout win over Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, but is nursing a hamstring injury.
It’s unclear if he will play and his absence would be a blow to the South Americans, but defence is the real key to Uruguay’s hopes, with coach Oscar Tabarez expecting to see less of the ball.
“I think very often there’s the mistaken belief that ball possession leads to scoring opportunities,” said Tabarez, who took over in 2006.
“If you don’t have ball possession, you can still inflict pain.”
Sources: Associated Press and different media outlets