Can Uruguay handle France’s speed and power?

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uruguay-vs-france

Uruguay will have to find a way to cope with France’s speed and power when the teams meet in a 2018 World Cup quarterfinal at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Friday, July 6, kick-off at 16h00 CAT.

Uruguay

Uruguay advanced into the last eight in impressive style this past weekend, defeating Portugal 2-1 thanks to two brilliantly-executed goals from Edinson Cavani. ‘La Celeste’ had the shock of conceding their first goal this year – as Pepe netted a header from a corner kick – but otherwise they held the European champions at bay to secure a deserved victory.

Coach Oscar Tabarez once again saw his side take another step up and continue to improve their form, with the South American heavyweights reaching the last eight of the global tournament for just the second time since the turn of the century.

France

France, meanwhile, was involved in a match which surely goes down as a classic in World Cup history, as they came from 2-1 down to defeat Argentina 4-3 in their last 16 clash. The star for ‘Les Bleus’ was teenage forward Kylian Mbappe, who scored two goals and won the penalty from which Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring. There was also a stunning strike from Benjamin Pavard which is a contender for goal of the tournament.

Kylian Mbappé
Kylian Mbappé is the youngest goalscorer for France at a World Cup

Coach Didier Deschamps will have had mixed emotions from his team’s performance against Argentina: he must have been thrilled to see his much-vaunted attack finally come to life in devastating effect, but shipping three goals at the other end suggests his side is vulnerable in defence.

Uruguay VS France

This match promises to be an intriguing battle of styles and tactics. The defensive-minded Uruguay will look to sit deep and frustrate France, closing down the space in which their remarkable athletes such as Mbappe and Paul Pogba will look to operate. In response, ‘Les Bleus’ must look to play with pace and intensity, moving the ball quickly through midfield to unsettle their well-drilled opponents.

With Cavani highly doubtful for the match due to injury, the key men for Uruguay are striker Luis Suarez and defender Diego Godin – they have completely opposite roles, but both are inspirational figures for ‘La Celeste’.

For France, Mbappe is sure to be watched like a hawk by the Uruguay defence, but they cannot afford to ignore his fellow attackers Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, who may see this game as their chance to steal some of the spotlight.

Uruguay v France – head-to-head

In head-to-head terms, Uruguay and France have met in eight matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. ‘La Celeste’ have claimed three wins compared to just one for ‘Les Bleus’, while four games have been drawn.

Three of their showdowns have been in World Cups, and all of them in the group stage: in 1966 Uruguay beat France 2-1 in London, and in 2002 and 2010 the teams played to goalless draws in Busan and Cape Town respectively. The teams’ most recent friendly was in June 2013 in Montevideo and won 1-0 by the South Americans thanks to a goal from Luis Suarez.

Suarez and Cavani are a formidable duo
Suarez and Cavani are a formidable duo

This time around, ‘Les Bleus’ superior athleticism should just give them the edge, though if any team can find a way to blunt them, ‘La Celeste’ would be the leading candidates.

Games stats

Matches played 8
Uruguay wins 3
France wins 1
Draws 4
Uruguay goals 8
France goals 4