By Michael Place NIZHNY NOVGOROD Russia
(Xinhua) -- If ever there were a
battle of contrasting styles, Friday’s Uruguay-France World Cup
quarterfinal clash is it.
Under the unassuming
leadership of Oscar Tabarez, Uruguay have reaped the benefits of
defensive solidity, tactical discipline and enviable team
spirit, not to mention a couple of world class strikers.
The Celeste have
conceded just one goal at this tournament on their way to four
straight victories, making them the competition’s most frugal
outfit alongside Brazil.
The linchpins of the
backline have been Atletico Madrid’s central defensive pairing
of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. They have been ably assisted by
full backs Martin Caceres and Diego Laxalt.
willingness to concede possession and hit teams on the
counter-attack has meant that a lack of world-class talent in
midfield has not really mattered. Edinson Cavani and Luis
Suarez, while not setting the tournament alight yet, have done
what has been required, netting five goals between them so far.
The potency of that
strike force is likely to be halved in Nizhny Novgorod on
Friday, with Cavani struggling to overcome a hamstring injury.
The Paris Saint-Germain
striker’s absence would put a greater onus on Suarez to perform
but with Uruguay’s strength in defence, one solitary goal from
the Barcelona forward might be all his side needs.
While France also
boast an impressive backline and midfield, it is their attack
that is most lethal.
through their group matches, Les Bleus exploded to life with a
4-3 victory over Argentina in the round of 16. Kylian Mbappe was
particularly impressive, netting a brace and drawing a penalty.
Antoine Griezmann has only scored twice in this tournament so
far, both from the spot, but one suspects that it is only a
matter of time before the 27-year-old brings his A game to
Russia. It would not surprise to see him do that against his
Atletico colleagues Godin and Gimenez.
France will be
missing their Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi for the match
due to suspension.
Muslera; Martin Caceres, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin, Diego
Laxalt; Nahitan Nandez, Lucas Torreira, Matias Vecino, Rodrigo
Bentancur, Luis Suarez, Cristhian Stuani
France: Hugo Lloris;
Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez;
N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba; Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann,
Corentin Tolisso; Olivier Giroud
very different from Argentin
By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- France coach Didier Deschamps
expects a tough game when his side faces Uruguay for a place in
the semifinals of the World Cup on Friday.
conceded just one goal in their four games to date and knocked
Portugal out of the tournament in the last round, thanks to two
goals from Edison Cavani, while the French beat Argentina in a
victory that was clearer than the final score might suggest.
Uruguay and Argentina are neighbors, Deschamps said in his
pre-game press conference on Thursday that they are miles apart
in footballing terms.
“This Uruguay side
has a very different profile to Argentina. We will have to be
patient. They are extremely organized in defense, they don’t
concede many goals. But they also know how to attack and they’re
very good with their counterattacks,” said Deschamps.
The France coach
said that the speed with which Uruguay were able to get the ball
forward was “really admirable, and they have two extremely
talented strikers. We need to be patient, but we’ll need to have
more than patient if we’re going to beat them.”
Luis Suarez and
Edison Cavani are Uruguay’s strikers, and although Cavani was
photographed in training on Thursday, he is a doubt after
limping out of last Saturday’s match with a calf injury.
“Cavani has been a
great figure at PSG. He’s a winner, he’s a leader, he’s
respected in France as a player and also as a man,” said French
goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to the press.
Lloris said that
“Cavani and Suarez are among the most beautiful attacking
pairings in the world. They’re a very difficult team to handle
and very strong on the counter,” but he added that if Cavani
didn’t play whoever replaced him, Maxi Gomez or Cristhian Stuani,
“can play at a very high level. We’re getting ready for
everything, whether he (Cavani) plays or doesn’t play.”
“It’s going to be a
big game. Uruguay are a very strong team, it’s going to be a
real struggle and we’re going to have to be focused in all
aspects of the game,” said the French goalkeeper.
French scorer Kylian Mbappe
can get better: Deschamps
NIZHNY NOVGOROD Russia (Xinhua) --
Kylian Mbappe has only just begun to realize his
enormous potential and still has scope for improvement,
according to France coach Didier Deschamps.
scored a brace and drew a penalty in France’s 4-3 win over
Argentina in the World Cup round of 16 last Saturday. It was the
first time that a teenager has scored twice in the same World
Cup match since Pele in 1958.
“What Mbappe did
against Argentina was very good and helped to show the world
what he can do,” Deschamps told a news conference ahead of his
team’s World Cup quarterfinal against Uruguay here on Friday.
“What he [Mbappe]
has done so far is fantastic. But he can continue improving a
lot. Kylian is very intelligent but he is still learning and
regardless of his talent at this stage of his career he must
continue to learn.
Deschamps would not
speculate over the fitness of Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani,
who is battling to overcome a hamstring injury.
“If he doesn’t play
there are other exceptional players ... I cannot know what is
going to happen. I will prepare my team for any situation,”
France guessing over Cavani fitness
NIZHNY NOVGOROD Russia (Xinhua) --
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has refused to
reveal if Edinson Cavani will play in his team’s World Cup
quarterfinal against France as the striker battles to recover
Cavani was forced
off with a hamstring strain late in Uruguay’s 2-1 victory over
Portugal in the round of 16 on Saturday.
On Thursday, the
31-year-old provided hope that he could be available for
Friday’s duel in Nizhny Novgorod as he trained lightly away from
the main group during a 15-minute period open to reporters.
“He’s a very
important player for us and he was really playing very well,”
Tabarez told a news conference. “As soon as he got injured he
began working hard to recover and fulfill his dream.
Cavani has scored
three goals so far in the World Cup, including a brace in the
victory over Portugal. His absence would likely mean a starting
berth is given to Girona forward Cristhian Stuani.
Tabarez added: “I’m
not going to say anything more about Cavani, I don’t want to get
into games... Soon you will know who will play and who will be
on the bench... Forgive me that you’re not going to have all the
information, as I have neither about the French.”
declined to entertain thoughts that Uruguay could win their
second World Cup and their first since 1950.
“We know what kind
of country we are, how many inhabitants we have, our
characteristics, our limitations,” Tabarez said. “We are never
the favorites... If we think about winning the World Cup, we
need to keep that for private moments. If not, it is not good
for our focus and our concentration.”