Didier Deschamps explains how he approached the Argentina match in 2018

Speaking in an interview with France Football in 2021, France boss Didier Deschamps explained how he succeeded in beating Argentina in 2018 during their Round of 16 clash that ended in Les Bleus winning 4-3.

On the approach taken re: the match:

We had already done a deep dive on our potential opponents, but there were only 3 days left to prepare this Round of 16 match well, take all the information available on Argentina, throw away the unnecessary stuff and focus on the essentials. This a team that has played its first 3 games with 3 different shapes (4-4-2 vs Iceland, 3-4-3 vs Croatia, 4-3-3 vs Nigeria) and that has made a fair amount of changes too, without a clear favoured XI. It therefore seemed to me also important to share the feeling on the pitch to our scouts before starting to analyse the match as precisely as possible, put these things altogether in video sessions for the players, then ask the right question and evaluate their strengths appropriately.  How can we be the most dangerous and effective as possible? How can we create them the most problems and hurt them? Argentina does not demonstrate a huge collective strength, but they have Messi, creativity, talent, aggressiveness and, immediately, two ideas come about.

Defensively, they struggle to deal with depth in behind when faced with pace, and they do not always respond well to losing the ball and seem sometimes even a bit cut in two and unbalanced. Individually, they have tough players, who perform well in duels, but, like lots of teams in this World Cup, they are in danger on quick transitions. We are going to have to exploit that. Then, offensively, the shape depends on Messi. So, the less that he has the ball at his feet to make decisions, the easier it will be for us to cut off the lines in move construction and the less influence he has, the better it will be.

Then moving to the team that will start, I have had that in mind for some time and it did not depend on Argentina: it will be the 4-4-2 that faced Peru in the second match. With, this time, a deep block, compact, to have a sufficient density, to close spaces well and not be in difficulty, us, in defending on transitions from attack to defence. A mid-block, it is often sh***y. 

In terms of everything else, we will stick to our principles: we press the moment that the ball is lost, if the ball has been lost high up, otherwise we get back in position, and try to have possession… And, as there are no specific instructions for defending set pieces, we will keep to our usual organisation. On corners, Argentina have a number of takers, Di Maria, Banega or Messi: Griezmann therefore, will occupy the first zone, Giroud will be on the first post, five players in marking, Kanté & Matuidi at the 16.5m area and Mbappé alone up top. For wide free-kicks, a 6-man defence, zonally, with, from the right to left, Pavard, Giroud, Varane, Umtiti, Pogba, Hernandez, and then two players either side who can jump in in case, Matuidi & Kanté.


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