Lionel Messi continues his World Cup run in the Round of 16 against France. The Euro finalists are fresh from a scoreless draw that saw them rest many of their players, while La Albiceleste were pushing until the last seconds of the group stage against Nigeria.
France vs. Argentina Squads
Argentina are old. And for a team struggling to score and advance, that’s bad. Argentina are the third-oldest team in the tournament and the oldest team remaining, with an average player age of just over 29.
One old name that had an excellent return to form is Gonzalo Higuaín. Sure, he missed an easy goal that would’ve given Argentina a much earlier lead, but Higuaín was vital to his side on defense, and they’ll need him to be the same kind of player against France.
Argentina also decided to go with Franco Armani as their keeper for the finale against Nigeria. Armani is 31 and plays club football in Argentina, but he made his international debut against Nigeria.
Conversely, French players average 26 years old, the third-youngest team in the tournament. That didn’t stop Didier Deschamps from resting most of his starters against Denmark in the group finale. Unfortunately for France, it wasn’t enough for them to escape the match unscathed.
Benjamin Mendy will be unavailable for the squad after suffering a setback against Denmark. Mendy recently returned from a seven-month absence due to knee surgery.
If Argentina don’t have the legs to keep up with France, they could try to stall the game out and hope for a penalty shootout. Argentina is the all-time leader with five shootouts in World Cup history, and played three games that needed extra time during the 2014 World Cup.
France were lucky to see an own goal in the group stage, but otherwise only managed two goals through three games. Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe are dangerous threats in space, but it’s Olivier Giroud winning in space that takes France deep into the tournament.
France vs. Argentina Lineups
Lineups are released one hour before kickoff
France: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez, Kanté, Pogba, Mbappé, Griezmann, Matuidi, Giroud.
Argentina: Armani, Mercado, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico, Mascherano, Enzo Pérez, Banega, Pavón, Messi, Di María.