Both Argentina and France will need to improve their respective forms when they meet in a Round of 16 clash at the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Kazan Arena on Saturday.
Despite boasting a squad overflowing with attacking talent, Argentina have struggled in their group matches. After being held 1-1 by Iceland in their campaign opener, the two-time World Cup winners were thrashed 0-3 by Croatia.
Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring against Argentina. AP /David Vincent
Facing a must-win contest against Nigeria in their last group match, Argentina were in real danger of being eliminated before Marcus Rojo scored a late winner to send them through.
Part of Argentina's woes have been Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi's inability to reproduce his club form for his country.
The diminutive genius has struggled to carry the pressure and weight of expectations that comes along with the Argentine jersey. With coach Jorge Sampaoli seeming to build his strategies around him, Messi's struggles have hurt the entire team.
Messi had however, delivered against Nigeria when he exploited some extra space allowed to him by the Africans' defence to score a brilliant opening goal. Argentina fans will be hoping for more of the same on Saturday.
The Argentine defence have also let the team down and had committed several glaring errors, specially against Iceland and Croatia. The poor form of the veteran Javier Mascherano must be giving sleepless nights to Sampaoli.
As a team, Argentina will have to do much better against France, who have, on paper at least, one of the most talented squads at this World Cup.
France have not fared any better. Placed in a relatively easy group, they struggled to beat Australia and Peru by narrow margins before being held to a goalless stalemate by Denmark.
They will face their first big test against Argentina. If N'golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba manage to impose themselves in the midfield, then things will get extremely tough for Argentina.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jun 30, 2018 22:11:44 IST