And the hopes of having a miraculous run to World Cup glory have come to an end. Argentina had the enough and more chances to go into the next round, but they couldn’t handle Kylian Mbappe, and France breezed past them into the quarter-finals.
The PSG star was in stunning form and was turning out to be a tough task for the Argentina defence to take care of on the pitch. His pace was allowing him to dribble past the midfield and defence without changing directions and without letting the ball be more than a feet or two away.
Marcos Rojo had to hustle him to the ground to stop him, and that gave France a penalty. Griezmann converted with ease and with the look of how Argentina were playing, the game looked set and done.
However, a screamer by Di Maria towards the end of the first half gave them hope, and there was rejuvenated confidence in the team. They were showing intent, and there was a sense of urgency in their push forward.
A fluke goal early in the second for Argentina via Mercado made it seem like the luck was apparently on their side, and the miraculous run was set to continue. All that ended when the youngest player on the pitch, Mbappe decided that he has had enough of it.
He was running at the defence again, and that gave Pavard some space, and he scored a screamer from the edge of the box to bring France level. Mbappe then scored twice to give them an unassailable 4-2 lead. Sergio Aguero scored at the very end to provide Argentina with another glimpse of hope, but that was just a consolation goal for the Manchester City star.
Here are three reasons why Argentina lost:
#3 Defence was too slow
As mentioned in the introduction, Kylian Mbappe was running rings around the Argentine defence. They were too slow and never in position.
Rojo could have intercepted the move that lead to the penalty if he was in the right position. He was way too close to the half-line and never adjusted his position when France were on the counter.
Likewise, Otamendi and Mercado were also unable to contain Griezmann and Pogba when they were attacking.
#2 Sampaoli got nothing right!
Sampaoli had one thing to do – send out the same lineup as the one vs Nigeria. However, he decided to start with Messi as a False 9 and dropped Higuain for Pavon.
That proved to be fatal as Pavon could not do anything on the wings and Messi was being marked by N’Golo Kante all the time. The fact that Messi played as a False 9 made it easier for the Chelsea star to mark him throughout the game.
Then, when Argentina needed three goals to win, and two goals to come back on level terms, he decided to bring on Meza and not Dybala or Higuain. He did bring on Aguero, but the presence of a target man would have been better.
#1 Kylian Mbappe
The sole reason why Argentine lost yesterday. There was nothing they could do to stop him, and he was enjoying his time on the pitch.
His pace was taking him past the slow and old midfielders and defenders. He was creating space for himself and was responsible for all of France’s goals.
Won the penalty, pulled the defenders towards him to give Pavard the space to shoot and scored the other two goals. Had it not been for him, Argentina would have been on their way to the quarter-finals and not back home!