After goals galore, French expects tighter game vs Uruguay
KAZAN, Russia (AP) — Forget champagne football. While the French scored four goals against Argentina to reach the World Cup quarterfinals, coach Didier Deschamps is expecting a much tighter game against Uruguay.
The 1998 champions are into the quarterfinals for the seventh time, and coming off a 4-3 win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina in an enthralling contest at Kazan Arena in which they dominated throughout and exposed Argentina’s defensive flaws.
After three unimpressive matches in the group stage, France finally made the most of its immense attacking potential and 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe became the first teenager to score more than once in a World Cup match since Pele’s double in the 1958 final.
But Uruguay, which has conceded just one goal so far and beat European champion Portugal 2-1 to advance, has a much better defensive line marshalled by the experienced Diego Godin. And so Deschamps knows there’ll be fewer opportunities next week in Nizhny Novgorod.
“Uruguay is a south-American team very difficult to play,” Deschamps told French television program Telefoot on Sunday. “Uruguay is maybe close to Peru, it’s solid and aggressive. These are not qualities displayed by Argentina. A difficult match is expecting us.”
France earned a tight 1-0 win over Peru in the group stage, a result that ensured passage to the round of 16. Before the festival of attacking football on display against Argentina, Les Bleus had scored only three goals and had been harshly criticized by French media for its mediocre and boring displays.
Deschamps, a member of the France squad that won the 1998 World Cup with a solid back-four and a steely midifield, was not bothered.
“Let’s try not to get carried away. My players have ambition, me too, but it will be a difficult match,” said Deschamps, who is now the longest-serving France coach, with 80 matches in charge.
Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann was among those who drew the most criticism during the group stage, following poor displays on the pitch but a constant presence on social media. Griezmann’s performance against Argentina was overshadowed by Mbappe’s exceptional display, although he opened the scoring from the spot in the first half and hit the bar from a free kick. Once again, his relationship with striker Olivier Giroud did not bring much result.
Griezmann praised the collective strength of France during the Argentina game.
“We were united, we defended very well and when we were down (2-1) we saw players with no doubts,” Griezmann said.