Five things we learned: France 4-3 Argentina
Kylian Mbappe is the one to watch in the quarters, and Jorge Sampaoli's future is in doubt. It's five things we learned about France v Argentina.
JORGE SAMPAOLI’S FUTURE IN DOUBT
Jorge Sampaoli once again failed to address Argentina’s poor defending that almost resulted in a shock group stage exit. Their back four failed once again to live up to their attacking prowess with silly mistakes and bad organisation the reason behind three of France’s four goal haul.
Rumours of an unsettled Argentine camp have been a hot talking point throughout their World Cup campaign, and the truth will likely not be too far removed.
He chose his 15th different line up to face France, and has still not found a system that works - Argentina need change.
KYLIAN MBAPPE SHINES BRIGHTEST
Kylian Mbappe just announced himself to world football on its biggest stage. Marcus Rojo couldn’t deal with his storming run from deep in the French half and that was just a sign of things to come. He netted twice in the second half with clinical finishing and caused plenty of issues for the Argentine defence.
It was an incredible performance for a 19-year-old playing in his first knockout game of a major tournament but a more organised defence will be much savvier to his game. Regardless, he's one to watch in the next round.
MESSI’S FINAL WORLD CUP APPEARANCE?
We haven’t seen the magic we’ve come to expect from Lionel Messi in Russia, which would be a sad way for him to say goodbye to World Cup football. As a football talisman, not only for Argentina, but for the entire game, the expectation he carries on his shoulders at a World Cup must be a huge burden.
It was clear during Argentina’s second group game against Croatia; as the anthems rang out Lionel Messi looked visibly worn out as he rubbed his forehead. He’ll turn 35 years-old-old by the time Qatar 2022 rolls around, Argentina’s hopes will likely rest on their newly emerging stars.
ROJO HERO TO ZERO
Rojo was the toast of the town following his 86th minute winner against Nigeria to send Argentina through to meet France, but less that 15 minutes into their last-16 clash, he’d already cancelled out his heroics.
Giving away a penalty so early in a knockout game is a critical error, and to do so in such a foolish way will be the painful memory he’ll take away from this tournament.
WORLD CUP CAMEO
You'd be forgiven for not even noticing that Angel Di Maria had even made an appearance in Russia. But out of nowhere, after 188 minutes of World Cup game time, he scored one of the goals of the tournament. He was vacant against Iceland, and the story was the same against Nigeria as Argentina strung together a winning goal only after he’d been subbed off. His World Cup performances mirrored many of the Argentine team - capable of producing moments of magic, but suffocated by a system that didn't work.