France and Uruguay will on Friday, kick off the contest to select the final four for the 2018 World Cup as they clash in the first quarter-final match.
This match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, will be a contest between France’s buoyant and potent attack challenging the Uruguay’s a gritty, iron-clad defence.
Will fans be treated with the same scintillating peformance against Argentina which saw youngster Kylian Mbappe scoring two and creating one as well as Antione Griezmann and Olivier Giroud.
While France have shown some exciting moves which have often resulted in goals upfront, Uruguay have shown such discipline in their defence, reflective in just the goal they have conceded so far.
Slowly but steadily, France have warmed themselves up into the competition, building on an unimpressive group stages, to a convincing Round of 16 clash that saw them edge out Argentina on a 4-3 thriller.
For the second successive time, France would seek to be at least in the semi-finals as their attempt at the 2014 World Cup was foiled by Germany, incidentally, at the quarter-final stage.
In Russia, Didier Deschamps has managed to revive the self-belief of his relatively young team, players, who were still very young when their seniors lifted the World Cup title in 1998.
Despite conceding three goals against Argentina in the round of 16 clash, France have shown some discipline in their defence given that the goals conceded were not something the defenders could have prevented.
With Deschamps planning to unleash his most deadly attack yet on Uruguay built from the middle Uruguay may be forced into extra work given the pace and speed of Mbappe who Deschamps, has indicated, will be deployed to just unlock the opponents’ defence and get others to bang in the goals.
Coach Oscar Tabarez, has succeeded in transforming the Uruguay team, building an aura around the team that makes it looks like they are serious contenders. However, Tabarez will have to find a worthy replacement for the experienced Edinson Cavani, whose priceless two goals proved decisive against Portugal.
Cavani walked off the pitch before the round of 16 game ended, complaining of an injury and it is not clear if he will be fit to feature against France. Uruguay would miss his effective partnership with Luis Suarez if the PSG star is unable to recover from his calf injury.
This is the third time the two sides will be clashing in the World Cup, Uruguay winning their 1966 clash, but the matches in 2002 and 2010 ending goalless.