Talking Points: Are France finally playing as a team?
Written by: Rohan Philip
Les Bleus produced a resolute display against a strong Uruguay side who had their own motivation to create history.
The first fixture of the quarterfinals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, finished with France defeating the South Americans 0-2. Les Bleus will now go on to face either Brazil or Belgium in the semi-finals of the quadrennial competition.
Here are five takeaways from this highly-competitive game.
Watch: Uruguay 0-2 France highlights
5. Uruguay employ a very physical style of play
South American teams are renowned for their style of play that is filled with flair and panache. However, Uruguay have strayed from that stereotype to an extent in this World Cup.
The strength they have in defence, having only conceded once before this game, is down to the highly physical style of football that they employ. This match was no exception, as the Uruguayans consistently put the French under extreme pressure and conceding 17 fouls.
4. Stuani failed to fill Cavani’s boots
In Uruguay's Round of 16 fixture against Portugal, Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint Germain had perhaps his best game in an Uruguay shirt, scoring two sublime goals and generally terrorizing the opposition with his attacking intent.
That was until he was taken off because of an injury that saw him ruled out of the quarterfinals. Christian Stuani was asked to deputize for the 31-year-old, but failed to do so to any effect, before he was hauled off to be replaced by Maxi Gomez in the 59th minute.
3. The match was a tale of two keepers
While the game was well won by France, individual errors and brilliance played their part in the goals and several key moments in the game. The highly experienced Fernando Muslera made an uncharacteristic hash of a relatively easy save to gift France the second goal and put them in the ascendency for the rest of the game.
The error came after French goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris pulled off an incredible save from a header to keep out what would have been a very demoralizing goal.
2. France are finally playing as a team
The French side that turned up against Uruguay was vastly different from the one that was fielded in their first fixture against Australia, not in personnel, but in mentality. The French were criticized for being a group of individuals rather than a team.
However, they have silenced their critics and look to be peaking at exactly the right time in the tournament. Each player complements the other and the team is a joy to watch.
1. Uruguay were outplayed in midfield
France were at a disadvantage coming into the game, following the suspension of the hugely influential Blaise Matuidi. Corentin Tolisso stepped in to replace the Juventus man and did so to great effect. The French midfield of N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Tolisso kept the play flowing and raised the tempo of the game to a level that the Uruguayans could not compete with.
France will play their semi-final on 10th July against either Belgium.
Published: Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:42 AM IST