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France 4-3 Argentina: 11 things we learned

Kylian Mbappe announced himself on football's biggest stage with two fine goals that gave France victory in a classic World Cup encounter with Argentina, and a place in the quarter-finals.

MBAPPE DEVASTATING

Kylian’s pace and predatory instincts worked to devastating effect as he scored twice and was brought down for the penalty which Antoine Griezmann converted.

ARGENTINA’S LACK OF PACE IN THE MIDFIELD AND DEFENCE

En route to the first goal, the relative ease with which Mbappe moved from his half into the Argentine penalty box was very worrying. The midfield trio of Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez and Ever Banega were non-existent as Mbappe drove through the middle. The defence couldn’t also cope with his pace as Mbappe put up a man of the match performance. It was as if Didier Deschamps instructed Mbappe to run at the Argentines anytime he had the ball.

MESSI’S BODY LANGUAGE

After Mbappe scored the 3rd goal for France, the camera fixated its gaze on Lionel Messi. Messi’s body language was a confirmation of Argentina’s defeat. He bowed his head and his shoulder dropped.

FRANCE’S INCREDIBLE RECORD MAINTAINED

Heading into the game, France had not lost a world cup game in which they had scored first since 1982. The record still continues.

DI MARIA FINALLY COMES TO LIFE

He has had a quiet tournament so far but the Angel found some spark and lightened up. He was given time and space to pick his spot as he lashed in a 41st-minute stunner to draw Argentina level. His performances in the 2nd half was reminiscent of the Di Maria we have been used to.

POGBA, POGBA, POGBA

Paul Pogba put in some good passes to cut Argentina open, especially on the right flank but his over elaborations on the ball was not a beautiful sight to see. Going forward, the dabbing maestro must learn to keep things cool and simple.

DESCHAMPS SHOULD STICK WITH GIROUD

Olivier Giroud has been in and out of this France team but his performance today might just have cemented his place in the starting 11. He offers a reference point in attack with his good aerial ability and also has the will to “FIGHT” when the going gets tough.

FRANCE’S QUICK TRANSITION FROM DEFENCE TO ATTACK

That 4th goal from Mbappe was a beauty. The build-up play was very quick and it worked to devastating effect. There were also some instances in the first half where the Argentine defence was cut open by some quick thinking from the French midfielders.

JORGE SAMPAOLI’S TACTICS

The plan was to overload the midfield area since he was wary of France’s brilliant midfielders. In effect, Argentina played without a recognized striker for long parts of the game. Argentina had 62% possession in the 1st half but due to lack of attacking options upfront, there was no movement upfront. The Argentines only managed 1 shot in the entire first half. He brought on Aguero but it was a little too late. It was difficult to understand why Sampaoli couldn’t get the likes of Paolo Dybala, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain to play together. Heading out, Sampaoli should consider opening a tattoo shop to enable him continue his crave for tattoos.

KANTE AND MATUIDI IMMENSE

N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi worked hand in hand to keep Lionel Messi quiet. It was a superb work from these two as they man marked the little magician, closed him down very quickly and prevented him from performing his magic.

ARGENTINA NEEDS A GOALKEEPER

Armani Franco’s positioning was suspect when Benjamin Pavard powered in a stunner of a strike. He could also have done better with regards to Mbappe’s 1st goal. Going forward, Argentina needs to attend to the goalkeeping department.

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