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Rediff.com  » Sports » FIFA World Cup: Steely Uruguay ready for Mbappe-fired France

FIFA World Cup: Steely Uruguay ready for Mbappe-fired France

Last updated on: July 05, 2018 10:19 IST

'Les Bleus' will be inspired by the two-decade anniversary of their only World Cup win in 1998, while double winners Uruguay's modern generation are desperate to recreate the black-and-white-era glories of their 1930 and 1950 trophies.

Nineteen-year-old Kylian Mbappe scored two goals in the Argentina game, becoming the first teenager since Brazilian great Pele in the 1958 final to score two goals in one World Cup match.

IMAGE: Nineteen-year-old Kylian Mbappe scored two goals in the Argentina game, becoming the first teenager since Brazilian great Pele in the 1958 final to score two goals in one World Cup match. Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

Fleet-footed France will have to find a way past the tournament's joint-meanest defenders Uruguay in the first of two inter-continental World Cup quarter-finals on Friday.

The South Americans kept Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo at bay in their 2-1 last-16 win, and that goal conceded was the only one against them so far in Russia -- a defensive feat only matched by Brazil, who play Belgium later on Friday.

 

But France banged in four goals in their last 16 game against Argentina, and will be hoping their formidable attacking trio of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe can turn it on again at the Nizhny Novgorod stadium.

Nineteen-year-old Mbappe scored two goals in the Argentina game, becoming the first teenager since Brazilian great Pele in the 1958 final to score two goals in one World Cup match.

But it was his amazing 70-metre sprint earlier in the match, to win France a penalty, that stunned viewers worldwide.

"I was wondering whether he was riding a scooter," joked France midfielder Florian Thauvin of the teenager whom Uruguay's defenders must be having nightmares about.

Uruguay's Edinson Cavani in checked by Portugal's Ricardo Pereira as he makes his way into the box

IMAGE: Uruguay's Edinson Cavani in checked by Portugal's Ricardo Pereira as he makes his way into the box. Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters

Factbox: Uruguay versus France

Portugal play Spain in a World Cup Group B match on Friday:

Where: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Capacity: 43,319

When: When: Friday, July 6, 1700 local time (1930 IST, 1400 GMT/10 AM ET)

Key stats:

- France play in a World Cup quarter-final for an seventh time with four successes and two defeats in past appearances in the last eight. Uruguay beat England in the last eight in 1954, the Soviet Union in 1970 and Ghana on penalties in 2010 but lost 4-0 to West Germany in 1966.

- France have won two penalty shootouts at the World Cup and lost two, the last in the 2006 final against Italy. Uruguay's only previous shootout experience was successful, against Ghana in Johannesburg eight years ago.

-France will be without suspended midfielder Blaise Matudi for the match while four players (Olivier Giroud, Benjamin Pavard, Paul Pogba and Corentin Tolisso) are one booking away from a one-match ban. Uruguay have had only one caution in the tournament, handed to Rodrigo Bentancur.

-Spain might be out of the World Cup but four Atletico Madrid players could feature in the game with Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez on the French side and Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin stalwarts in the Uruguay defence. .

-The match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium will be the only quarter-final encounter to pit two former champions against each other. Uruguay lifted the World Cup trophy in 1930 and 1950, while France took the honours in 1998. .

-Spain might be out of the World Cup but four Atletico Madrid players could feature in the game with Antoine Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez on the French side and Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin stalwarts in the Uruguay defence. .

-Uruguay go into this game on seven successive victories, conceding a single goal in the process in their last match against Portugal on Saturday. They have scored 13 times. Uruguay's last defeat was 2-1 by Austria in November. .

-France's only defeat in their last 16 matches was in March at home by Colombia in a friendly match. They have recorded eight wins and two draws in their last 10 fixtures. .

-This will be the last game at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium where both countries play for the first time. The previous five matches at the venue have delivered 17 goals and a penalty shootout as Croatia edged Denmark in the previous round. .

Previous meetings: These two sides have met three times previously at the World Cup. In their first meeting, a group game in 1966, Uruguay won 2-1 but the subsequent encounters ended goalless. There have also been a further two goalless draws in past friendlies and the last meeting between the two countries was a 1-0 win for Uruguay in a friendly in Montevideo five years ago. .

On the surface, though, Uruguay look relaxed and their experienced central defenders Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin are relishing the chance to foil both Mbappe and their friend and Atletico Madrid teammate Griezmann.

"We want to deny them space, stop them playing, make their strikers uncomfortable -- that's our weapon," said midfielder Diego Laxalt at the Uruguay camp in a hotel outside Nizhny Novgorod which, oddly, is painted in the colours of Brazil.

With an impressive strike partnership of their own in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the Uruguayans believe they can surpass their most recent best of a semi-final in 2010 -- though Cavani is sweating on a calf injury that may keep him out.

'Les Bleus' will be inspired by the two-decade anniversary of their only World Cup win in 1998, while double winners Uruguay's modern generation are desperate to recreate the black-and-white-era glories of their 1930 and 1950 trophies.

The winners will play Brazil or Belgium, who meet in their quarter-final in Kazan on Friday evening, for a place in the July 15 final.

Source:
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