Going into the tournament, Argentina and France could have been said to be favourites to advance to infinity and beyond. And while the expectations have anything but diminished, the internal strength of these two footballing giants is in doubt. Less so for unbeaten group-toppers France, despite a string of thoroughly unexceptional performances, far from striking the fear that is warranted with a squad of their caliber. Argentina share an incredibly disappointing run of performances, but have also suffered defeat. Having squeaked past Nigeria to qualify, Argentina must prove that they are still capable of playing confident, forward-minded football. Unlike Germany, fortune favoured Argentina, which they must capitalize on. I hope that the captain Lionel Messi has rallied his troops toward the fluid football we expect, instead of the sluggish, sloppy play we have been seeing. As far as France is concerned, there has never been a more opportune moment to play an Argentine side. One way or another, it will be a game of confidence, on and off the ball, going into the first round of 16 clash.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Jun 30, 2018 18:49:55 IST