We have witnessed numerous breathtaking moments so far at this year’s World Cup, from Cristiano Ronaldo’s opening performance against Spain, Croatia dismantling an out of sorts Argentinian side, Germany faltering in the group stage and hosts Russia delivering a knockout blow to the almighty Spain.
Yet, France delivered potentially some of the most enthralling moment’s that we will witness all summer, in their recent encounter against Argentina.
A game that grabbed the imagination and joy of spectators around the world, as we marvelled at the sheer brilliance occurring in-front of our eyes.
It is a game that will be remembered vividly, not only for it’s entertaining nature but for the performance put forth by nineteen-year-old Kylain Mbappé.
In what can be described as his coming of age ceremony on the world stage, there were whispers of “glorified” and “overrated” comments being aimed at the young Frenchman prior to kickoff.
Those comments were quickly made to appear foolhardy, after a performance that you are unlikely to see bettered at this World Cup. The Paris Saint-Germain forward produced a perfect conversion rate, constructing a brace of goals from his two attempts. Furthermore Mbappé enjoyed a success rate of 70.00% with his attempted dribbles and was successful in 75.00% of his duels, during the game.
It was a performance worthy of seeing France reach the quarterfinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and potentially earn Kylian Mbappé the 2018 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball award.
Didier Deschamps spoke to TF1 after the game, in-which he stated: “It was emotional. I am very happy for the players and to have qualified. I feel happy.
“As I told the players before the match, they have been working towards this for months, they were ready for a game like that. They needed to answer, and the response was a strong one.”
The xG count seemingly agrees with Deschamps, as ‘Les Bleus’ dominated the xG total bettering the Argentines total 2.16 to 0.85. Although France conceded three, the xG total appears to indicate that Didier Deschamps side were unfortunate to concede as many as they did, as Messi and co struggled to create any high-quality chances.
An element that has been evident throughout this World Cup that is seemingly going unnoticed is the defensive capabilities the French possess, conceding xG counts of just 0.85, 0.27, 0.45 and 1.12 their defensive abilities are rivalled only by the likes of Uruguay and Brazil.
Uruguay have produced remarkably consistent performances, thus far. Allowing xG counts of just 0.49, 0.33, 0.16 and 1.15 their defensive structure which is constructed of Diego Godín, José Giménez and Lucas Torreira has been sound.
Yet they have seemingly allowed a steady increase in quality chances as the oppositions offensive talents have improved, with Portugal producing an xG total of 1.15. The highest xG count Uruguay have allowed so far in the tournament and with encounters against Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Russia yet to test the validation of the so-called strongest defence in this year’s World Cup.
An offensive line made up of Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé is arguably one of the most threatening in the world and it seems likely that we will observe a further increase in the xG total that Uruguay allow, as they come up against their strongest opponent to date.
The department that has attracted the most support is the ‘Over/Under’ market, which has observed the opening price on the ‘Under 2.0’ goals line gather support with opening quotes of 1.95 now contracting into 1.84.
In addition, the draw has attracted some fairly significant support within the ‘Match Odds’ market and although France have remained in a similar state to their opening quotes. The support that has been observed on the draw has consequently seen Uruguay drift across the board, being pushed out in both the ‘Match Odds’ and ‘Asian Handicap’ markets.
A key element in this quarter-final tie will be the individual matchups, the French defensive line should have an easier time adapting to the offensive outputs produced by Uruguay.
N’Golo Kanté will likely dictate the pace of the game sitting just in-front of Raphaél Varane and Samuel Umtiti, which will allow Paul Pogba some freedom in his one on one duels.
The lightning pace possessed by Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, and Osumane Dembélé could cause catastrophic consequences to the Uruguayan defensive line, especially if Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté are able to dominate the transitions between the lines.
After watching both sides and analyzing their data, it appears to be a poor match-up for Uruguay. Yet if they are able to obtain possession in decisive areas, their conviction from set pieces could have a major influence on this game.
However ‘Les Bleus’ have seemingly stepped into gear and given the pace between transitions, it’s an element that will continue to cause chaos. Belgium’s ten second, 94-yard break counterattack against Japan was the perfect example of the devastating consequences that can occur when teams possess speed in their transitions.
Therefore with the market currently offering odds of 2.00 on France, winning this game within ninety minutes. That perception seems rather generous given the data on hand and it would come as no surprise to observe significant support for the French prior to kickoff.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: France -0.50 at 2.020
Preview by: @gscurftrader.