France vs Argentina preview, betting tips and prediction
France @ 13/10 with Betfred
Argentina were just four minutes and one Marcos Rojo wonder goal from exiting the World Cup at the group stage. Their game against Nigeria was make or break and it brought out the best in them. The best is relative in an extremely flawed group though. Having Lionel Messi in the side is a massive pro, especially when he’s in the mood.
Accusations could be laid at Messi’s feet after his side’s opening two fixtures but many would argue that while Messi is an extraordinarily gifted man, he is only one man. He cannot carry a ragtag team through this competition and Jorge Sampaoli has an awful habit of picking ragtag teams. For the Nigeria clash, Ever Banega was drafted in. An extremely rational decision and one that is so unlike Sampaoli the Argentina Manager that there is a belief that he has been overthrown and that it’s Messi and Javier Mascherano calling the shots. If that’s the case then Mascherano should maintain some dignity and drop himself before French attackers strip him of it.
Not that France’s attack has looked particularly ruthless. Like Argentina, they’re stacked up front. Also like Argentina, they have a manager who doesn’t seem capable of getting the best of their side. They navigated their way through the group stage with ease but three uninspiring performances left a sour taste in the mouth. Their goalless draw with Denmark was sinfully boring. They showed no desire to win the game, preferring to conserve energy, a decision which was met with boos by the final whistle from the disappointing paying fans. ‘What were they expecting,’ Deschamps might have asked. It’s hard to see France winning the World Cup unless they seriously sharpen up. But they could probably best Argentina in the state they’re in.
Argentina put in their best shift of the competition against Nigeria. However, there is still so much to be desired. The defence is shaky with Javier Mascherano (usually acting as a holding midfielder or deep-lying playmaker) particularly vulnerable. Mascherano gave away the penalty that Nigeria scored and has more penalty-box fouls inside of him. Having Banega in the side raised their overall game and his link-up play with Messi was encouraging. There are still far too many average players in the side though. One who should be performing better is Gonzalo Higuain, the Juventus striker defying critics who claim he only misses sitters in finals.
France have an incredible group of players yet can’t seem to find any rhythm to their play. Perhaps it is the fact that they have Deschamps in the dugout that’s holding them back. None of their attackers have really wowed and Paul Pogba hasn’t led the team as many hoped he would. Their most impressive player thus far is N’Golo Kante. The Chelsea midfielder is tireless in the centre of the park and will be pivotal to anything France accomplish.
Argentina have a fully-fit side to choose from.
France also have a fully-fit side to choose from.