France’s World Cup campaign so far has almost exactly mirrored their efforts in qualifying for the tournament – solid but not spectacular. As a former French defensive midfielder, manager Didier Deschamps won’t care one bit that their narrow victories over Australia and Peru and dour draw with Denmark were not visibly entertaining. The fact is that his team topped the group, and the first goal is complete.
Perhaps then it is ironic that in topping the group France will now meet original Group D favourites Argentina instead of a supposedly easier opponent, although as we have seen so far in 2018, the South Americans have been just as indifferent on the pitch as their French counterparts – the only difference is that Argentina’s opposition put up more of a fight.
This should be a game worthy of a semi-final or even final given the talent on show for both sides. France’s squad boasts players on the bench that most sides can only dream of having, while Lionel Messi’s Argentina are a headline act.
There are two questions that must be asked when looking at this match. Can France step up when it is required or will their lacklustre showing carry over into this crucial fixture? And can Argentina shut out the drama (and their opposition for a change) and move into the quarter-finals?
As far as predictions go, this one is tough. Argentina have conceded in all three games, including four goals against European opponents. France though have offered so little in attack, scoring only one goal that has not come from the spot or from a freakish deflection.
Argentina certainly boast the players to break down the French defence, and with VAR available the chances of a 0-0 occurring at this tournament continue to be slim (well 1 in 48 at last count).
France look to have the edge, and the +129 available makes them a decent pick as the favourite. They haven’t lost to a South American team at the World Cup for 40 years. Yet Argentina have a superior record over the French, and at +248 present a worthy outsider option.
We think this match will go to extra time, and for that reason our pick is a draw in the head to head market (paying +198). A 1-1 scoreline seems the most likely.
As for the team to progress, we are tipping France to somehow get through, although neither team really deserve to be in the next round based on what we’ve seen.