Just like in a movie script, the game between Uruguay and France was decided by the French player who feels Uruguayan. Antoine Griezmann did not even celebrate his goal, but he really was the “Man of the Match” in Nizhny Novgorod, where France assured a place in the semi-finals.
For the second goal it may be inevitable to talk about the incredible error of Fernando Muslera, but the merits of the French number 7 were mainly displayed in Varane’s goal, given the perfection with which he served his colleague via a free kick. To avoid Godin and Giménez’ aerial power, France bet on the anticipation. A poisonous approach from Deschamps’ team, who used an opponent’s weapon to put the game in their own favour.
That didn’t prevent Uruguay from using the same formula to try to equalise, but a monumental save by Hugo Lloris prevented Martin Caceres from scoring in the 44th minute.
Óscar Tabárez’s team entered the second half with the discomfort of having to take on the game more than they prefer to – even more so without the injured Edinson Cavani, who was replaced by the ineffectual Cristhian Stuani – and France returned with the privilege of waiting for an opposition error to launch the sprinters Griezmann and Mbappé in counterattack.
Muslera’s error, at the 61st minute, did not just reinforce this trend. It also sentenced the match, pure and simple, with Uruguay proving unable to bother Lloris again.
“We played with more mastery, especially in the second half. We did not want to give them any chance, because they usually take advantage of them”, said Didier Deschamps after the game.
France weren’t brilliant – nor did they need to be – but once again showed a striking balance between talent and maturity, which is particularly impressive considering the average age of this team.
Without giving up the irreverence of players like Griezmann, Mbappé or even Pogba, France has been a very solid team (although against Argentina they fell into a swirl of emotions that almost ran out of control).
Moralized by the goal scored, Raphael Varane was even the most punctuated player of the match, finishing the day in eighth place in the overall leaderboard of this World Cup, and second best on the defensive.
N’Golo Kanté leads “off the ball” global ranking, after another discreetly formidable display at the heart of the game.
But this time the biggest figure was Antoine Griezmann, the Uruguayan from Macôn, who delivered heartbreak to some of his closest friends. Professional life is like that, and France is only one step away from another final.
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) 6 de julho de 2018