Messi to fire his country into the World Cup quarterfinal?

The stage is set for the clash of the titans as pre-tournament favourites France take on Argentina in the first round of 16 tie at the World Cup in Russia.

France head into it as slight favourites following teams’ group stage performances.

Argentina had a non-inspirational and rather dismal campaign in the group, but they somehow managed to find the way past Nigerian defense to pick up a last-gasp win on the final day and advance into the knockout stage for the fifth time in a row at World Cups.

The head to head statistics completely favour Argentina here as La Albiceleste won all of past 4 meetings with France.

The first one took place at the 1930 World Cup and it saw a 1-0 victory for Argentina who also clinched a 2-1 win at the same competition 46 years after.

Most recent encounters had a friendly character and they saw Argentina winning 1-0 and 2-0 in 2007 and 2009.

That said, Les Bleus have only scored 1 goal in four head to head affairs with Argentina over the course of history. Will they end the negative trend this time out at the biggest stage?

These two sides have only notched 3 goals apiece in the tournament. Given the stakes will be even larger when they take on each other in the eliminatory affair, the most logical betting option would be backing a low-scoring contest.

Argentina’s defensive line might be the biggest problem for such bet as Jorge Sampaoli’s men conceded at least once in all of three group matches even though the opposition included Iceland and Nigeria there. They shipped as many as three to Croatia in the 2nd round and we wonder how they intend to stop the star-studded attacking line of France’s here.

Another problem for Los Gauchos is the age of their players since the starting XI against the Super Eagles was the oldest ever to appear at this competition (average age of over 30 years).

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