Quiet, yet frenetic. France against Argentina gave a rousing start to the knockout stages if the 2018 World Cup. The scoreline says everything, it was a thriller.
It wasn’t a tie anyone would predict really soon. But Argentina topping group D is only a matter of if, so they had to gear up for an examination of attitude while France on the other hand were up for their first real test of the tournament.
They were both pre-tournament favourites, France with the youngest squad and Argentina with the oldest set up an epic battle.
Between either sides were club teammates too, Samuel Umtiti had to tackle Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe was up against Angel Di Maria as well.
You probably witnessed the whole game play out, so there’s no need to go back to the story. But as you watched, did you see a new rave picking up the mantle where one of the G.O.A.T will probably drop it?
From the first touch and run Mbappe made in the game, a message was loud and clear; the Argentine defense was going to have a busy day. And two yellow cards in that process meant they won’t be able to handle it.
But after going up courtesy of Griezman’s impeccable spot kick, France held out a bizzare script and what they read out was unclear. Argentina managed to understand and slowly capitalized on the space they were gifted. Angel Di Maria could even take a selfie before firing that equalizer.
That was the inspiration a flat-footed Argentina needed, but Benjamin Pavard’s moment was rare and France were back into it. From there, they stuck out the clearer script and Lionel Messi and co couldn’t comprehend any longer.
That brings us to the brilliance and composure of Kylian Mbappe. Is there anything left unsaid about the cheerful showmanship of the 19-year old? Perhaps no, but we are yet to see the ones to come.
He’s done it before at club levels and on the biggest stage, he keeps stamping his name as the next big thing in football.
He’s not the youngest to play at the World Cup, but he sure brings back memories of the great Pele and De Lima Ronaldo. He’s become a big part of the puzzle for France.
On the other side, how rude is it to say Argentina didn’t deserve to play be at the 2018 World Cup? Maybe anyone didn’t pay attention but from their qualifiers to the build up, the attitude wasn’t right.
It’s hard to pick a shot that Jorge Sampaoli called correctly, a coach who had the luxury of dropping two classic strikers to the bench, still every player in that squad is as guilty as the coach.
The battle hardened Messi, who dragged them to Russia became more or less of a passenger in his own bus. He should have just enjoyed retirement and watched on TV.
France’s exciting youthfulness might not have come of age yet, but they’ve spelled the end of an aged side.
Mascherano has called time, the next retiree is predictable