2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 Recap of France-Argentina and Uruguay-Portugal

Mbappe steals the show as France sends Argentina home in a 4-3 victory

            In the first match of eight in the round of 16 we definitely got a great game to open the knockout stages. In the 9th minute Antoine Griezmann was close to scoring as his 25 yard free kick hit the crossbar. France would receive a penalty in the 11th minute of the match, powered by Kylian Mbappe’s solo run from all the way from half field; he got into the box but was pulled down by Argentinian defender Marcos Rojo which resulted in a penalty for France. Antoine Griezmann would step up to the spot and score the penalty to give the French the early 1-0 lead. France in the first 30 minutes of the match was in control of the match, playing the game at their tempo. But in the last 15 minutes of the first half it was all Argentina, and Argentina would take advantage of those 15 minutes. In the 41st minute Angel Di Maria scores off a wonderful strike from about 25 yards out to level the game at 1-1 going into halftime. Three minutes into the second half Argentina would take the lead as Lionel Messi’s left footed shot gets deflected in by fellow teammate Gabriel Mercado, giving Mercado the goal and Argentina the 2-1 lead. The lead would not last long for Argentina; in the  57th minute French right back Benjamin Pavard ties the game at 2-2 from sweet volley just outside the box. The technique from Pavard’s shot was superb, a world class goal. Seven minutes later the French would retake the lead as Mbappe dribbles around Argentina’s defense and his left footed shot goes in after freeing himself. At this point Argentina’s defense was falling apart, just like it has for majority of this tournament. In the 68th minute Mbappe would put the icing on the cake by scoring his second goal of the game, giving France a 4-2 lead. With that goal Mbappe becomes the first teenager to score at least two goals in a World Cup match since Pele did it for Brazil in the 1958 final against Sweden. Argentina would pull one back in the 93rd minute through Sergio Aguero’s header provided by Lionel Messi’s perfectly placed cross. The French advance to the quarterfinals where they will face the winner of the Uruguay/Portugal game. Argentina’s World Cup ends here in disappointment, especially after reaching the finals at the previous World Cup. Will this be Lionel Messi’s last World Cup or last game in an Argentinian shirt? We will have to wait and see.

 

Cavani’s brace powers Uruguay past Portugal

            In the second game of the round of 16, Uruguay beats current European champions Portugal 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. The first goal of the game would come early as in the 7th minute Edinson Cavani would finish Luis Suarez’s beautifully timed cross to put Uruguay in the lead. In a game in which both teams are solid defensively, an early goal is just the start either one of these teams would want. The first half was rather even, some chances were created but nothing major happened. That early goal definitely changed the approach both teams had coming into this game. Portugal started off the second half in a more attacking approach as they were a goal down. Portugal would level the game at 1-1 through a Pepe header from a Raphael Guerreiro in the 55th minute. Uruguay would quickly score to go up 2-1 through a world class finish from Cavani just outside the box. Sadly for Cavani and Uruguay, Cavani had to be subbed off in the 74th minute because of an injury. Cavani and Suarez have created a world class strike force and losing one of them will hurt Uruguay’s chance at going far in this tournament. More on Cavani’s injury will come in the coming days. With 15 minutes remaining Portugal put everything forward in hope of a tying goal to send it to extra time, but Portugal failed to score and the game finished 2-1 for Uruguay. Uruguay will face France in the quarterfinals, which looks like to be a great match up. Portugal’s world cup ends here and this game most likely Cristaino Ronaldo’s last World Cup game. By the time the 2022 World Cup comes around he will be 37 years old; unlikely he is still playing by then.

 

Dino Pavleka: @dino_ATL

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