We look at Les Bleus’ individual performances in a quite compelling way to kick-off the 2018 World Cup’s knock-out proceedings.
Hugo Lloris – 6
Apart from conceding a thunderbolt from Angel Di Maria, this is probably one of the quietest games Lloris has ever had for France. Argentina had five shots on target but one of them was the Di Maria effort, another was Mercado’s flick, one was Aguero’s headed goal and the other two were easy rollers into his arms. Not much to talk about, because Hugo himself didn’t do much.
Benjamin Pavard – 8
When you score a goal as beautiful as Pavard did, you deserve to be rated highly. Not only that, but his performance was excellent, being strong defensively and largely able to handle Angel Di Maria with ease whenever the PSG winger was on the wing. The Stuttgart man has grown in this World Cup massively, but he was one of the stars on show and not only for his game.
Raphael Varane – 7.5
Throughout this tournament Varane and Umtiti have grown as a partnership and today, they hardly let Messi or any of the Argentinian strikers have a sniff from first minute to last. The defence may have conceded three goals but Varane put in a dominating performance and was superb all game.
Samuel Umtiti – 7
It seems a lifetime away since Umtiti was caught slam dunking the ball in his own penalty box against Australia, but today he was brilliant. He was imperious, smart in the tackle and on the ball as well as keeping his discipline multiple times, keeping Argentina quiet. A really good game whenever he or Varane were needed, and they look formidable together.
Lucas Hernandez – 7
In recent games Hernandez has been criticised for not being too defensively disciplined and for going down too much but today he looked so mature and professional, it actually looked like a different player. He was smart, careful in when to go forward and when to stay back, superb when needed and even added a bit going forward with some crucial crosses. A key cog of the backline that probably has the best balance in this tournament.
N’Golo Kanté – 7.5
Kanté has been the best French player in this tournament, but today he was rather outshone. That being said, he was still good in the middle. He won the ball whenever it was near him but his main task of man marking Messi wasn’t as easy for him as many predicted it could be, but that was of course also down to Messi’s performance level. Kanté was his usual energetic self, but he has set his standards so high that this does not serve as much of a criticism.
Paul Pogba – 8
This is the Paul Pogba performance we’ve been waiting for. He was brilliant, capitalising on the invisible Argentina midfield to dominate proceedings. His passes were on point, played to precision with both the pace on the ball needed to reach his target and the technique to deliver them perfectly. He was confident, but not cocky or overcomplicated and realised this was his chance to shine. A brilliant performance from a brilliant player.
Blaise Matuidi – 7
Matuidi may not have the most glamorous of roles in this France team, but he certainly has an important duty in the way the team sets up and plays. His energy and defensive discipline was exactly what France needed to counter act Argentina’s attacking threat. It’s just a shame that he got booked and will now miss the quarter-final against one of Uruguay or Portugal, but the type of game may not have suited him anyway!
Antoine Griezmann – 7.5
Another penalty goal for Griezmann, and his best performance of the tournament. He was a leader, leading the front line not in his position but with his voice, his actions and his confidence and also with crucial defensive work, notably in France’s penalty box on Messi in the 1st half. He directed the team, gave orders and was at the heart of most of France’s top moves. A big performance from a player who needed to answer some of his World Cup critics.
Kylian Mbappé – 10
Do you know who the last teenager to score two goals in a single World Cup match was? It was Pele. PELE! That, along with his incredible performance today, shows how special this young man is. At just the age of 19, he outshone one of the greatest players in the history of the game in Lionel Messi and stepped out of the “best young talents” to one of the best players in the world today. His pace, his electricity, his finishing was all perfect today and that is the best way to sum up Mbappé today. Simply perfect.
Olivier Giroud – 7
Giroud may not have scored today, but he was key to this performance from France. His hold up play was exactly what the quicker players needed, even if he struggled with this in the 1st half, and his presence up front occupied the Argentina defenders and drew space for Mbappé. The biggest compliment you can give Giroud is that he never gave up today, he kept trying to help the team and while he looked frustrated early on, he plugged away and tried to help the team more than getting anything for his own benefit.
Corentin Tolisso for Blaise Matuidi – N/A
Nabil Fékir for Antoine Griezmann – N/A
Florian Thauvin for Kylian Mbappé – N/A