Sports Monks

FIFA World Cup 2018: 5 reasons why France won against Uruguay

Didier Deschamps’ French side turned up with an extremely professional performance to see off a seemingly weakened Uruguayan side. France gained a lead through Raphael Varane’s header and then doubled it with Antoine Griezmann’s effort on the goal, which undoubtedly was signified due to Fernando Muslera’s howler between the sticks. Uruguay dominated the opening stages of the game, but the French side settled into the game well later on and ensured that they were superior with respect to Oscar Tabarez’s men. Here, I try to decipher five reasons why France secured a victory in this game:

#5 Lack of Uruguayan attacking firepower

It is undeniable that the French players had an advantage as Edinson Cavani was ruled out of the match due to the injury that he suffered midway through the second half in Uruguay’s game against Portugal. Cavani brings in a supreme mentality, his dire fighting ability, the tendency to drop deep into the field and charge ahead to combine with Luis Suarez makes him the most vital cog in the Uruguayan setup.

 In his absence, there was hardly any drive or energy in the final third, and Suarez looked off his game mostly because he couldn’t interlink with Cristhian Stuani as well as he does with Cavani.

 The PSG striker provides the extra zealous factor to the Uruguayan team, something that usually helps them overcome their lack of midfield creativity in general. Stuani wasn’t as quick as Edinson, and neither was he prolific in front of the goal. France took advantage of this situation to peg Uruguay back and nullified their attacking threat too.

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#4 The change in momentum after a turbulent start

Despite the absence of Cavani, Uruguay started the game brilliantly as they regularly tested the French backline and sent in some looping, accurate deliveries into the box too. They controlled the possession and were on the verge of breaking into attack consistently. The French players made some sloppy passes, were off their positions and overall it was quite a hustled initiation to the game. However, as we have seen often this tournament, France slowly got their momentum back by slowing the tempo of the game, and then they controlled the proceedings with some commanding passing display.

They got into the groove quickly enough after beginning slowly and eventually enhanced their stature in the game. Pogba’s nifty footwork, combined with N’golo Kante’s constant interceptions and recoveries meant that they were on the move regularly. Moreover, Griezmann dropped down to collect the ball and distributed it to the wings, whilst launching instant counter-attacks too. Overall, it was a strong comeback from the team after an iffy start to such a match of such high magnitude.

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#3 Midfield domination

It is undoubtedly a huge fact that Kante and Pogba play at their best level together. While Kante is defensively solid, and ridiculously tenacious, Pogba has his own unmatchable flair and creativity in his game. France is undoubtedly benefitted due to this as both of them combined to dominate a nearly non-existent Uruguayan midfield throughout the game. There was much more composure and intent in their passing, whilst Pogba collected the passes and drove the team ahead instantly with him. His movement for the second goal was immense, as Paul won the ball in his half, and then dribbled his way to the opposition box before stitching passes that led to Antoine’s goal.

He was deployed in the right-sided midfield role, and was instructed to do the dirty defensive work as such. Pogba won 100% of the attempted tackles, won four aerial duels and cleared the ball on five occasions too. Kante’s defensive discipline, combined with Pogba’s tendency to mix up the attacking aspect of his style of play with some tenacity meant that the French team had two midfielders with the required assets to control the tempo of the game.

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#2 Collective attacking and defensive display

Ahead of the tournament, there were huge doubts over this French side as the consensus was that they lacked the overall cohesiveness to proceed further in the tournament. However, the match against Argentina and now this game would testify that the French players could well play as a good collective unit as such. Today, the midfield was communicative; they made the right passes almost every single time and defended as well as attacked in numbers. While winning the ball back, one could observe Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann down to the halfway line too.

 Then they set off on quick counter-attacks and the fullbacks charged up on the field to join the attacking moves too. The defensive shape was intact to close down the half-spaces in the midfield, and the mere fact that Pogba made 25 successful passes in the final third means that France always found them on the offensive mode too. Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez overlapped well, while they also tracked back in time to resolve their defensive duties. The team was well drilled, and cohesively carried out their tasks to perfection.

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#1 It was Antoine Griezmann’s day, lads!

It is really difficult to halt a player of the caliber of Antoine Griezmann, when they get on song. The French international starred while playing behind Giroud today, and played crucial parts in both the goals. His movement, acceleration with the ball, passing range and interlinking with Pogba and Mbappe meant that France’s attacking moves encircled around Antoine’s ability to churn out appropriate passes and dink in vital deliveries into the box. He had 81 touches on the ball, second only to Pogba’s 100 touches in this game. Griezmann delivered three key passes too, whilst having completed a couple of dribbles too.

His movement was immaculate and brought fluidity to France’s style of play, as he roamed around the attacking line usually to exploit the unmarked spaces. Griezmann regularly shunted wide to attract defenders towards him, which actually freed up a couple of French forwards inside the box. He delivered six crosses into the box, showed brilliant awareness to pop up in unmarked spaces, and tried his flicks to dismantle the opposition’s backline inside the penalty box. His free kick that found Varane’s header was smart, and was lucky enough to snatch a goal in the game with a powerful strike too. France’s second goal came through a howler by Muslera, but it was indeed a good enough effort that forced the error in the first place.

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