After the first rest day, the 2018 FIFA World Cup gets underway as we enter the knockouts, with the Round of 16 spread over four days.

First up is the very top of a blockbuster top half of draw as dark horses, France meet wobbly favourites, Argentina.

In the day’s second match, it’s Luis Suarez vs Cristiano Ronaldo as Uruguay meet Portugal.

 

France vs Argentina 

World Cup - Group D - Nigeria vs Argentina

Can Lionel Messi ‘player coach’ Argentina past France? (Reuters)

Argentina are lucky to even be here let alone getting this far given how poor they are defensively. 

France meanwhile took foot off gas in last group game and it could very well prove costly here. 

Whilst Argentina might be struggling with Lionel Messi seemingly having seized control from Jorge Sampaoli, they have suffered just two defeats to Les Bleus in 11 clashes with two of their six victories coming at a World Cup (1930 & 78). 

In fact, since that defeat in 1978, France are yet to lose to a South-American team and are unbeaten in ten of last 11 World Cup knockout games that didn’t need penalties. 

Looking to the match now, I can see France having the edge here because with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante in midfield whilst Antoine Griezmann up front, they will be a tough side for Argentina’s defence to cope with. 

In end, I can see Oliver Giroud coming off bench to produce another of his super impact sub performances.

Prediction: France 2-1 Argentina

 

Uruguay vs Portugal

Suarez v Ronaldo

Who will win as Luis Suarez’s Uruguay meet Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal? (BBC Sport)

This match definitely is all about Suarez vs Ronaldo as the La Liga rivals meet with their countries.

Despite their strong pedigrees over the decades, this is their first ever World Cup meeting but Portugal are yet to lose in two previous meetings. 

Uruguay however cruised through Group A unbeaten despite failing to impress against Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 

Portugal however has relied on Ronaldo for majority of their group stage goal, with only Ricardo Quaresma managing to score excluding the Real Madrid starlet. 

Realistically, I wouldn’t be surprised if this needs a penalty shootout to settle things but Portugal are unbeaten in 16 of last 17 games at a major tournament that hadn’t needed penalties. 

Ronaldo however is yet to score in knockout stages of a World Cup but I can see him ending that run here. 

Prediction: Uruguay 0-1 Portugal AET

 

 

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