World Cup 2018: France v Argentina

The knockouts get underway as Les Bleus face a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina in Kazan

Patrick Madden Sat, Jun 30
 
LIVE: World Cup 2018: France v Argentina

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of France's last-16 clash with Argentina in Kazan (kick-off 3.0pm).

    The group stages have been and gone in a flash - but what a first two weeks we've had. Everybody has their favourite World Cup, but the common consensus seems to be Russia '18 is the best since France '98 - or even earlier.

    So far it's had a bit of everything. Some brilliant games, some stunning goals, a few major upsets and plenty of controversy. And now we have a number of heavyweight clashes to look forward to.

    And it doesn't get much more heavyweight than France against Argentina. Both sides have been poor thus far by their lofty standards - Les Bleus yet to really gel, Argentina scraping through by the skin of their teeth.

    On paper the French have the players to go all the way this summer. Argentina, meanwhile, have got Lionel Messi.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action this afternoon, as well as this evening as Uruguay take on Portugal in a battle royale. This is where things get really serious.

    Come on!!!

  • TEAM NEWS:

    France: Lloris; Pavard, Umtiti, Varane, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba; Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud.

    Argentina: Armani; Mercado, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico; Mascherano, Perez, Banega; Pavon, Messi, Di Maria.

    Referee: Alireza Faghani (Iran).

  • Argentina boss  Jorge Sampaoli has left Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain on the bench today - which is a pretty bold move. Messi looks to be playing through the middle flanked by Angel Di Maria and Christian Pavon. So basically, Argentina's tactics are 'give it to Lionel.'

    France meanwhile are back to full strength after Deschamps rested players for their dead rubber stalemate with Denmark. Paul Pogba is among those back in the first XI, while Olivier Giroud is again chosen to lead the line - with Thomas Lemar and Ousmane Dembele snubbed.

  • Some pre-match reading?

    Emmet Malone has previewed the last-16 ties, which you can read HERE, as well as looking ahead to this afternoon's game HERE.

    Meanwhile Keith Duggan has reflected on a tournament which so far has exceeded expectations on and off the pitch - you can read his column HERE.

  • A pretty spectacular picture of Diego Maradona before Argentina's 2-1 win over Nigeria in St Petersburg.

    It took a late Marcos Rojo goal to send La Albiceleste through to the knockouts, sparking manic celebrations - from Maradona inparticular.

    Argentina seem constantly on the verge of a breakdown - there's so much invested in this tournament and they're so emotionally charged. Can't be good for you.

  • 15 mins until kick-off!
  • For both managers, their career is on the line this afternoon. Sampaoli's influence has already been repeatedly called into question, while Deschamps can't fail to get beyond the last-16 with this crop of players and expect to stay in a job.

  • Here come the teams in Kazan!
  • Two rousing anthems. I've got a good feeling about this one.
  • The Fifa mascot is taller than both referee and almost as big as Hugo Lloris!
  • BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!
  • 1 min: Steady, early possession for France. Great noise in Kazan - the Argies really do travel well.
  • 2 min: Argentina already making this scrappy in midfield. Expect plenty of niggle and needle from them today.
  • 3 min: Matuidi steams in to tackle Messi and predictably concedes a free-kick. Theatrical tumble but probably fair enough. Banega to swing it in from the right - France clear at the second time of asking.
  • 5 min: Whistles greeting French possession. Nice flick round the corner from Giroud to Mbappe but he's tackled and a great ball releases Di Maria on the left. He's one on one but thrashes a cross harmlessly out for a goal kick.
  • 8 min: Electric turn of pace from Mbappe who zooms towards the edge of the box and is crudely hacked down by... guess who? Mascherano!

    Very dangerous free-kick for France - probably 25-yards out to the right of the D. Griezmann and Pogba over it... Griezmann rattles the cross bar with Armani stranded! What an effort.

  • 10 MIN: FRANCE 0 ARGENTINA 0
  • PENALTY TO FRANCE!!!!!
  • 11 min: Argentina have the ball on the edge of the French box but lose it and Mbappe breaks from deep in his own half - showing stunning speed to carry nearly the length of the pitch and into the box where Rojo barges him over. Brainless defending - Mbappe was running wide.

    Griezmann to take. . .

  • GOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!

    FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 0 (GRIEZMANN 14 MIN)

  • Griezmann strolls up and rolls it into the bottom left corner with the 'keeper going the wrong way. Easy as ya like.

    15 MIN: FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 0

  • 16 min: So Rojo goes from hero to zero. This is fascinating now - Argentina have to press and France have the pace to slaughter them on the counter.
  • 19 min: Wow! Lovely touch from Pogba on the edge of his of box and he plays a stunning ball over the top to Mbappe, who again gets in behind and is hacked down by  Tagliafico. He gets a booking, the ref gives a free-kick - it was inches outside the area.

    Pogba and Griezmann over the dead ball. . . Pogba rasps it miles over the bar - poor effort.

  • 20 MIN: FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 0
  • 22 min: Argentina corner on the left after Banega's shot is deflected behind. Easily cleared.
  • 24 min: Mbappe is on flames here. He skins his man on the left and is denied a clear free-kick. Moments later Mascherano tries to slide in Perez - Lloris off his line brilliantly to snuff it out.
  • 26 min: There's so much space behind Argentina. Pogba finds Griezmann down the right and he scampers past Rojo on the right and into the box - his low cross is too close to Armani.
  • 27 min: Nice little dink from Pavon to Mercado who volleys a nothing ball across goal. He's screaming for a penalty after a potential handball from Umtiti - no chance.
  • 29 min: Good play from Pavard and he crosses into the Argentine box - it falls to Giroud at the back post but he can't sort his feet in time and it bounces off his shins.
  • 30 MIN: FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 0
  • 31 min: Sublime break from France - Kante sweeping up and finding Griezmann who releases the marauding Pogba. He plays in Mbappe with a fine pass but this time  Tagliafico stands him up. The French look so dangeorus on the counter.

  • 33 min: Good battle between Matuidi and Otamendi on the left - the latter coming out on top. On the whole Argentina are struggling with these balls over the top.
  • 35 min: A 50-50 between Otamendi and Giroud - the Argentina defender then performs some amateur dramatics. Embarrassing.
  • 37 min: First glimpse of danger from Messi, Di Maria slides him in the box and he looks to get there ahead of the defender before being brought down. Messi doesn't even appeal for the penalty.
  • 38 min: Good ball from Messi into the French box and Pavon pulls it back from the byline - Pavard can clear with hardly any blue and white shirts sniffing around.
  • 40 MIN: FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 0
  • 40 min: Messi up aginast Kante on the right - the man who can beat anyone against the man who can tackle anything. This time, it's Kante who comes out on top.
  • GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!

    FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 1 (DI MARIA 41 MIN)

  • WHAT A HIT! Angel Di Maria - who's been abysmal all tournament - takes a touch out of his feet 30-yards out and whips an untoppable shot into the top right corner. The ball was swerving away from Lloris into the side-netting.

    43 MIN: FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 1

  • 45 min: That's basically a freebie for Argentina. They've shown nothing but somehow will go in at half time level.
  • HT: FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 1
  • The teams are coming back out. What a half this is going to be.
  • We're back underway!!!
  • 46 min: A change for Argentina - Fazio replaces Rojo.
  • 47 min: Di Maria looks in the mood after that goal and he has Pavard in a twist on the left, winning a free-kick just outside the box.
  • GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!

    FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 2 (MERCADO 49 MIN)

  • Banega's ball into the box is a good one but it's turned away as far as Messi. He turns onto his left and shoots, it takes a huge deflection off Mercado, leaving Lloris stranded.  

    Horrible challenge from Banega on Mbappe on the right, he gets a booking. Over to you, France.

    50 MIN: FRANCE 1 ARGENTINA 2

  • 52 min: Matuidi bursts down the left and is hacked down. Argentina are going to get very, very dirty now.
  • 55 min: That goal has rocked France a bit - they've been far less fluid since the break.
  • 56 min: Huge let off for Argentina. Fazio looks to play the ball back to 'keeper Armani but passes it beyond him. Griezmann snipes in but puts the ball wide - he was being pulled.
  • GOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!

    FRANCE 2 ARGENTINA 2 (PAVARD 57 MIN)

  • WHAT A GOAL! Matuidi plays an excellent ball to Hernandez down the left. The full back does well to cut it back from the byline and it bounces for Pavard at the back post, who leans back, cuts across it and sends a rasping half volley into the top left corner. Very similar to Nacho's goal for Spain against Portugal.  

    This is so, so good.

    60 MIN: FRANCE 2 ARGENTINA 2

  • GOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

    FRANCE 3 ARGENTINA 2 (MBAPPE 64 MIN)

  • Mbappe is some player. Pogba finds Hernandez on the left and he crosses. A first-time shot is blocked as far as Mbappe, who shifts onto his left with one touch - taking three Argentine players out of the game - before shooting low past Armani. The 'keeper should have done better.

    66 MIN: FRANCE 3 ARGENTINA 2

  • 67 min: Aguero is off the bench, replacing Perez. Plenty more twists and turns in this you'd imagine.
  • GOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!

    FRANCE 4 ARGENTINA 2 (MBAPPE 68 MIN)

  • Another stunning goal, this time a flowing move from France. Argentina's line is ridiculously high and Les Bleus exploit it, working it through midfield to Giroud who slips in Mbappe. What happens next is never in doubt - he drills a first-time finish into the bottom left corner.

    70 MIN: FRANCE 4 ARGENTINA 2

  • 71 min: France break again through Pogba, who strolls forward and then finds Giroud with an excellent pass - he can only find the side-netting.
  • 72 min: Di Maria plays a wild cross from the left but is caught late by Pavard. The delivery is headed away and France break again through Kante. He eventually switches for Mbappe but he tries to find Griezmann and gets the pass all wrong.
  • 75 min: A coouple of changes - Matuidi replaced by Tolisso for France, Meza replacing Pavon. Paulo Dybala stuck on the bench again - Sampaoli deserves the boot for that alone.
  • 77 min: Lovely jink inside from Pavard and he's shoved over by Mascherano. He can't be far off a second yellow.
  • 80 MIN: FRANCE 4 ARGENTINA 2
  • 81 min: France letting Argentina have the ball in midfield then looking to get them on the counter when it breaks down. Messi on the verge of a tantrum.
  • 83 min: Griezmann has been good today - he's replaced by Nabil Fekir.
  • 84 min: Pavard gets caught napping by Aguero who dances towards the byline and tries to work the angle for a shot but is quickly snuffed out.
  • 85 min: Almost a moment of magic from Messi who works the ball past two French defenders and into the space but his right-footed effort is tame.
  • 86 min: Di Maria with a free-kick on the right - well headed away by Hernandez. France nearly home and hosed.
  • 88 min: The scintillating Mbappe is replaced by Newcastle United legend Florian Thauvin.
  • 89 min: Di Maria dances into the box and cuts back - his low cross cleared away. The ball is played back for the PSG winger... whos's offside.
  • 90 min: There'll be four minutes added time.
  • GOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLL!!!!

    FRANCE 4 ARGENTINA 3 (AGUERO 93 MIN)

  • Hello...stunning ball by Messi to Aguero, who heads in at the near post.

    France break from the restart. Horrible hack from Mercado on Pogba. This Argentina team are a horrible bunch at times.

    94 MIN: FRANCE 4 ARGENTINA 3

  • FT: FRANCE 4 ARGENTINA 3

    FRANCE ARE THROUGH TO THE WORLD CUP QUARTER-FINALS!

  • Right, thanks for joining this afternoon. The knockouts are well and truly underway after that. What a game.

    I'll be back in an hour or so to bring you Uruguay against Portugal - cya there!