Verdict: France win
On Saturday afternoon, France and Argentina clash in the first knockout game of World Cup 2018. The two teams produced highly contrasting displays in the group stages, but will both see the quarter-finals as a realistic aim.
France made it through to the knockout stages with very little fuss, beating Australia and Peru, while drawing with Denmark in their final group game. However, there is a sense that Didier Deschamps team are still performing within themselves in Russia.
Les Bleus are unbeaten in seven outings and will be heading into this game highly confident they can progress into the quarter-finals of the competition.
Their recent international games have been tight, as three of their last four games have produced under 2.5 goals.
France have only one reported injury worry in Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti. However, he should be fit enough to return to the starting eleven. Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Hugo Lloris were rested last time out but should play from the start for Les Bleus.
Argentina scraped through to the knockout stages by beating Nigeria 2-1 in their final group game to finish second their group behind Croatia on just four points. La Albiceleste needed an 86th-minute goal to secure their place in the last eight.
It is fair to say that the South American giants have not been at their best in Russia, especially star player Lionel Messi. However, the Barcelona forward did produce a much-improved display against Nigeria, scoring and hitting the woodwork.
For all their struggles in Russia, the defeat against Croatia in their second group game is their only loss at the World Cup in 90 minutes in ten outings. A recent record of just two wins from five international games does not bode well for Jorge Sampaoli’s team.
La Albiceleste has fitness doubts over midfielder Enzo Perez, who could miss out. Sampaoli may decide to name an unchanged line-up from against Nigeria, although Sergio Aguero could replace Gonzalo Higuain up front, as the Juventus forward struggled to make a positive impact last time out.
France have by no means fulfilled their potential this summer so far. The same could be said of Argentina, but Les Bleus have a more talented all around squad. Deschamps team should have too much for the underwhelming Argentinians in this one.
Verdict: France win
Best Odds: 29/20