2018 FIFA World Cup | France vs Uruguay: 5 talking points

2018 FIFA World Cup | France vs Uruguay: 5 talking points

France forward Antoine Greizmann (L) and Uruguay defender Diego Godin contest an aerial ball (Photo: AFP)

France vs Uruguay was a clash that promised much and while it turned out to be a procession rather than the rollercoaster that it promised to be, Les Blues fans weren’t complaining as they inched closer to the 2018 FIFA World Cup title on Friday night.

With Edinson Cavani missing out due to a hamstring injury, the Uruguayan attack had no bite, despite possessing the unpredictable talent that is Luis Suarez (pun intended) and France ultimately cruised into the last-four by virtue of a 2-0 scoreline.

Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann provided the goals for Didier Deschamps’ side and here are the five main talking points from an eventful encounter at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium:


Set-pieces prove to be Uruguay’s bane again

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Varane excelled on both ends of the pitch against Uruguay! (Photo: AFP)


Much has been made of Uruguay’s defence at the World Cup.

After all, they hadn’t been breached even once in the group stages.

And even when Portugal did score against them in the last-16, Pepe’s goal came from a corner and not open play.

And while Diego Godin and Co. did have a standout game against Les Blues, they were undone on a set-piece against France.

Forget the second goal, it was the first that as decisive on the day and anyone watching the game would agree on this.

Raphael Varane, relatively tall but definitely not the burliest of players, beat everyone to the ball as he guided home Antoine Griezmann’s delivery from out wide to ensure Didier Deschamps’ men went into the interval ahead.

Clearly, France had done their homework and identified a weakness in a Uruguayan defence that had looked impregnable till Friday.

France defend well, but this wasn’t the real test for Varane and Umtiti

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Brazil or Belgium await France in the semis! (Photo: AFP)


After three conceded against an inconsistent Argentine side in the last-16, there were fears that Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez would prove to be France’s undoing in the quarter-finals.

As fate would have it, the PSG striker was ruled out with a hamstring injury and as a result, Suarez was partnered by Crishtian Stuani.

What followed was a relatively easy outing for Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane, as they were untested for the entire 90 minutes on Friday night.

It’s not to disparage Stuani but there can be no comparisons between him and Cavani and Uruguay’s buck-toothed talisman had little or no support as a result.

DON’T MISS | France vs Uruguay: Les Blues cruise into semis

Regardless of whether Brazil or Belgium make the semi-finals, France’s central defensive pairing will be in for a testing outing come Tuesday, however.

Umtiti’s leg is heavily wrapped and it remains to be seen whether the Barcelona man will be operating at 100 percent when the semi-finals come around.

Kylian Mbappe may have the world at his feet, but he’s still got a lot to learn

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Mbappe’s theatrics threaten to tarnish his reputation! (Photo: AFP)


Mbappe’s exploits for Monaco facilitated his megabucks move to Paris Saint-Germain and the teenager hasn’t stopped wowing the world ever since.

The 19-year-old’s exploits carried forward for country at the World Cup, with Argentina feeling his wrath in spectacular style.

Come what may, the world will know of Kylian Mbappe when the quadrennial showpiece comes to a close next week.

However, if the second-half of the tie against the Uruguayans is anything to go by, it’s that the teenager still lacks maturity.

Not for the fact that he struggled to assert himself in a high-profile game.

No, because no player can maintain that level for every game but for the fact that his perceived showmanship created an unnecessarily-fractious ending to the tie.

If his aim was to waste time, then job well done but at what cost?

For now he is one yellow card away from missing the final.

Fernando Muslera makes big blunder, but game was lost anyway

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So close, yet so far for Uruguay! (Photo: AFP)


Football is an unforgiving arena, but the World Cup especially so for it only comes every four years.

At 32, Muslera still has plenty of football left in him as goalkeepers peak around this age but what if this is his final act at the greatest tournament of them all?

He’ll be panned by pundits and fans alike but in reality, the game was over long before his blunder.

Varane’s header, not Griezmann’s speculative strike, was moment Uruguay were out of the game.

Had the tie been level and then Muslera let slip the ball as he did, then he could have been blamed but as it was, France’s collective might was just too much on the day and they reached the semi-finals deservedly.

Les Blues hitting their stride as business end of tournament approaches

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Deschamps (L) will be purring with delight after Friday’s win! (Photo: AFP)


Pre-tournament favourites, France are within touching distance of a second World Cup.

They haven’t been pretty, despite having an abundance of attacking talents at their disposal, but no team save Belgium have been consistently impressive going forward in Russia.

Antoine Griezmann is on song, as is Kylian Mbappe and while Olivier Giroud is yet to hit the target, the burly Chelsea forward has his uses and who knows?

He may just score the winning goal in the semi-final or the final?

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Their fullbacks, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, have showed composure that belies their youth while Hugo Lloris has rediscovered the form that made him a staple name in England.

N’Golo Kante continues to be the indefatigable phenomenon that he is and while Paul Pogba hasn’t been terrific, he hasn’t exactly been terrific either.

And with the wealth of options Deschamps has at his disposal, don’t be surprise if they bookmakers peg the 1998 winners as the title favourites very soon.