France are through to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals after beating Uruguay 2-0 this afternoon.
Hugo Lloris – 7.5
There’s only one place to start when talking about Hugo Lloris’ performance today, and it was that magnificent save from Martin Caceres. There have been a lot of top saves across this World Cup but not many will argue that Lloris’ save today was the pick of the bunch. He got down so quickly to deny a Uruguay equaliser just moments after France had taken the lead, making the save that little bit more important.
Benjamin Pavard – 6.5
In a game as cagey and tight as this one, you almost need players like Pavard. He wasn’t exceptional, he wasn’t lightning going forward but he was resilient at the back and was conservative when needed to be. He didn’t let the Uruguay antics get the better of him, and he didn’t get involved in any scraps, Pavard just kept his cool, played his game and was quite comfortable defending today.
Raphael Varane – 7.5
What a header, what a moment and what a huge goal it could be for France and Raphael Varane! It was the exact thing that France needed to set them apart and the training ground goal from Griezmann’s free-kick and Varane’s perfectly timed glance was perfect for France, but even defensively Varane was superb against a nippy Uruguay front two of Stuani and Suarez.
Samuel Umtiti – 6.5
Over the course of this tournament both Varane and Umtiti have gelled very, very well and today was another feather in their defensive partnership cap. Umtiti dealt with Suarez well and kept his head when it had the potential to turn into a kicking contest as some of the Uruguayan’s left some cheeky elbows in, but he didn’t retaliate, he just played the game and that showed today.
Lucas Hernandez – 7
It had the potential to be a very bad afternoon for Hernandez when he picked up a booking in the first half but he did very well to not get involved in anything that could have seen him sent off and overall he had a very average game. Going forward he was a little wasteful, but he provided a good balance on the flank and his no-nonsense defending was crucial in the last 15 minutes.
Paul Pogba – 6
It’s been made quite clear that on social media, it is forbidden to say anything negative about Paul Pogba. Every game he plays, he is amazing (even ones when he isn’t quite good, like today). Even if he isn’t quite involved in the game and struggles to touch the ball in the first half, that is irrelevant. If Pogba doesn’t affect the game and comes across as a bit of a passenger, put that to one side. Got that? Okay, good because Pogba was a little disappointing today and seemed off the pace, but don’t tell anyone that I said that! He lost the ball more than any of his midfield colleagues, but did grow in confidence in the second half.
N’Golo Kanté – 8
There is a strong case for Kanté to be the best player at this World Cup. Against this Uruguay team, it is imperative that you stop their counter attacks and prevent them from getting any momentum from the transition from defence into midfield and Kanté was there at every opportunity today to break up the attacks. He was everywhere, like the old joke about 20% of the world being covered by water, the rest being covered by Kanté (or whatever it is). He was superb today and long may it continue!
Corentin Tolisso – 6
As talented as he is, Tolisso didn’t look all too comfortable today in his role as a left sided central midfielder. It was a position that maybe Pogba could have executed a bit better on his more natural side but replacing Blaise Matuidi was never going to be easy for Tolisso. He didn’t have the energy of Matuidi, but his maturity towards the latter end of the game was key in keeping the coolness of players when Uruguay wanted to have a “discussion” with a prone Kyllian Mbappé.
Kylian Mbappé – 6.5
Speaking of Mbappé, his duel today was Diego Laxalt was very enjoyable to watch and proved that Mbappé can dig deep to make some important runs beyond his marker, even when his marker is not giving him an inch of space. The majority of the post-match talk will be about his little back-heel and dramatic falling when Rodriguez left a little something in on him, but without giving too much of a personal view on what is professional and what isn’t (i’m also not going to mention/bash a Brazilian fellow he plays with at club level), Mbappé had a good day. Maybe not to the level of the last round, but still a good game.
Antoine Griezmann – 7
Yes, he scored but the assist should really go down to Muslera in the Uruguay goal for his unfortunate mistake. Besides his goal, Griezmann was actually quite important today and that showed with his cross for Varane’s opener. His little check in his run up caused havoc in the Uruguay defence and allowed Varane to run in to the vacated space. He may not be wracking up goal after goal in his matches, but he is still important to how France play, and showed great defensive resilience.
Olivier Giroud – 7.5
Remember how I said social media says Paul Pogba can never have a bad game? The same applies to Olivier Giroud, except he can never have a good game unless he scores. Forget his great hold up play, great link up play with the other attackers or his defensive work, the only thing people focus on with Giroud is his goals. It’s a shame, because he was very important today and showcased exactly why Didier Deschamps rates him so highly and needs him in the France starting XI.