Fleet-footed France will have to find a way past the tournament’s joint-meanest defenders Uruguay in the first of two inter-continental World Cup quarter-finals on Friday.
The South Americans kept Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo at bay in their 2-1 last-16 win, and that goal conceded was the only one against them so far in Russia — a defensive feat only matched by Brazil, who play Belgium later on Friday.
But France banged in four goals in their last-16 game against Argentina, and will be hoping their formidable attacking trio of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe can turn it on again at the Nizhny Novgorod stadium.
Nineteen-year-old Mbappe scored two goals in the Argentina game, becoming the first teenager since Brazilian great Pele in the 1958 final to score two goals in one World Cup match.
But it was his amazing 70-metre sprint earlier in the match, to win France a penalty, that stunned viewers worldwide.
On the other hand, Uruguay look relaxed and their experienced central defenders Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin are relishing the chance to foil both Mbappe and their friend and Atletico Madrid teammate Griezmann.
With an impressive strike partnership of their own in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the Uruguayans believe they can surpass their most recent best of a semi-final in 2010 - though Cavani is sweating on a calf injury that may keep him out.
In the second match of the day, Belgium’s quarter-final battle with Brazil will be a classic encounter between an unstoppable force and an immovable object when the tournament’s joint best defence comes up against its most free-scoring attack in Kazan.
Brazil have conceded only one goal in this World Cup and allowed only five shots on target in four games, the fewest of any side.
Belgium, meanwhile, are the tournament’s top scorers, banging in 12 goals in their four games so far.
Eight of those goals came against Tunisia and Panama, and slim wins against England and Japan have cast some doubt on whether they can impose themselves against better teams.
The much-lauded midfield struggled in the Round of 16 tie against a Japan side who never gave them time on the ball and it was only when Marouane Fellaini came on in the second half to provide some muscle that Belgium took control of the contest.
The Belgians may want to adopt that more robust approach from the start against Brazil in order to give midfield maestros Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne time to make decisive passes.
Brazil will likely start with Fernandinho in place of the suspended Casemiro, a change that gives them their own added muscle, but the South Americans could miss the Real Madrid midfielder’s drive going forward.
Here is all you need to know about catching the World Cup action live on 6 July:
When and where will the matches be played?
The two matches scheduled to be played on 6 July are Uruguay vs France at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, followed by Brazil vs Belgium at the Kazan Arena.
How do I watch the matches live?
The matches will be shown live on SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 2 HD, SONY TEN 3 and SONY TEN 3 HD.
What time will the live coverage start?
The live coverage of the FIFA World Cup will begin at 6.30 pm with a pre-match show. Uruguay vs France is Friday's first quarter-final at 7.30 pm, followed by Brazil vs Belgium at 11.30 pm
Where can I follow the matches online?
The matches will be streamed live on SonyLIV. You can also follow live updates at firstpost.com.
With inputs from Reuters
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Updated Date: Jul 06, 2018 12:05:54 IST