Et voila! Without Edinson Cavani’s genius – kept at bay by an injury – Uruguay evidenced their limits, and bent their knee to France. Les Bleus won 2-0 their Quarter Final match in Nizhny Novgorod with goals by Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann, showing cynicism and team solidarity.
Paris Saint Germain’s diamond couldn’t make it for the game. Call it destiny, but spell it football. A malicious calf injury deprived the Celeste of their match winner, affecting their reknown garra and concentration. A mishap that kept the Matador on the bench, but gave France the chance to confirm their talent, overcoming one of the best teams seen so far in World Cup 2018. To El Maestro Oscar Tabarez, we can only wish the best of luck for his future battle, much more important that a football game.
We had already presented France as a young and skilled selection, with the tight mix of exuberance and experience. Coach Didier Deschamps brought to Russia players like N’Golo Kanté, Samuel Umtiti, and Blaise Matuidi, to balance the youthful excesses of Kylian Mbappé and the other French terrible kids. France’s successes so far prove Monsieur Didier’s capacity of building a solid group, that goes beyond the results on the field. His side won without shining yesterday, and their challenge to the Belgian fairytale is launched: The Red Devils are warned…
With Cavani out, coach Tabarez deployed Cristhian Stuani to support Luis Suarez on the front line. But it was Genoa’s midfielder Diego Laxalt to produce the first scoring chance for his side, as he moved past France’s young side back Benjamin Pavard, and crossed for a tap in that was missed by the Uruguayan strikers.
The French were fast to reply, first with a shot by Lucas Hernandez, which the Celeste defense somehow managed to push back, and then again in the 15th minute with a header by Mbappé. The 19-year-old missed the target, but terribly scared Tabarez’s men, who fearfully moved their line of play back from then on. The Transalpine increased their forcing, and gradually took control of the game.
Scoring chances for the Bleus were scarce, if truth be told, but their pressing forced the Uruguayans to resort to hard means to stop them, and that turned out to be the key to unlock the game. Corentin Tolisso, who substituted one-match banned Matuidi, gained a free kick from the limit of the box on a foul by Rodrigo Bentancur. From the spot, Griezmann found defender Raphael Varane’s header, which beat Fernando Muslera and brought France to 1-0.
Uruguay answered immediately, but Martìn Caceres’s header didn’t catch Hugo Lloris by surprise. The French goalie first parried back the shot, and then was lucky when Diego Godin’s tap in ended out of target. The second half opened with no changes, but with the bad omen of Muslera’s hesitation that reminded Liverpool’s keeper Loris Karius disastrous performance during the last Champions League Final.
The former goalkeeper of Lazio tried to dribble his opponent, probably forgetting that his name was Antonie Griezmann, and risked giving away a second goal to France, which didn’t happen only because Griezmann’s shot missed the goal target. Muslera will eventually succeed a few minutes later, anyway.
The Celeste were clearly lacking offensive options, and tried to push with their heart, but in the 61st minute destiny turned its back on them again. A seemingly harmless shot by Le Petit Diable tragically slipped out of Muslera’s hands, delivering the second one to the French, with the most classic of goalkeeping blunders.
The game ended there, and there was not much else to report, except for a small brawl in the 67th minute triggered by a nervous Cristian Rodriguez knocking down Kylian Mbappé, with the French theatrically accentuating his fall and his pain (he must have learned that from his teammate at Paris Saint Germain Neymar…). They both earned a yellow card.
The Celeste ended their run, and Jose Gimenez’s tears in the last minutes, while the game was still being played, were a clear sign of surrender. The Tour Eiffel, on the other hand, continues to get closer and closer to the Kremlin.
July 6, 2018 – World Cup Quarter Finals
SCORERS: 40′ Varane, 61′ Griezmann
|URUGUAY (4-4-2): Muslera; Caceres, Godin, Gimenez, Laxalt; Nandez (73′ Urretaviscaya), Torreira, Vecino, Bentancur (59′ Rodriguez); Stuani (59′ Gomez), Suarez (Campana, M. Silva, G. Silva, Pereira, Coates, Sanchez, De Arrascaeta, Varela) Coach: Tabarez|
|FRANCE (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Pavard, Varene, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kanté; Mbappé (88′ Dembélé), Griezmann (88′ Fekir), Tolisso (80′ Nzonzi); Giroud (Mandanda, Areola, Sidibé, Kimpembe, Rami, Mendy, Thauvin, Lemar) Coach: Deschamps|
REFEREE: Pitana (Argentina)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Bentancur, Rodriguez (U), Hernandez, Mbappé (F)