Who? France - Argentina
Where? Kazan Arena, Kazan
When? June 30, 16:00 (CET local time)
France (Omri Tancman)
In many cases, when two teammates at club level play each other in the World Cup there is a little bit of magic in the air. It is always interesting to watch how personal contacts and friendships transform very easily to a rivalry once money is transferred with national pride. This will be the case for Samuel Umtiti and Lionel Messi
Between both players there is a lot of mutual respect. For example, when rumors in March linked Umtiti with leaving Barcelona, one of the most vocal players to keep Umtiti in the club was Messi. Umtiti as well shows a lot of appreciation for Messi. Umtiti was asked in a press conference towards the game between France and Argentina about his relationship with Messi. According to Umtiti, it is almost impossible to stop Messi due to his abnormal qualities and his desire to win every game. Umtiti, the one who’s supposed to stop Messi during Barcelona trainings, said that Messi’s technical abilities and different eye to the game, as he witnesses every day, is what makes Messi so difficult to stop for defenders but at the same time so admired and appreciated by them.
Even though Umtiti maintains a close relationship with Messi, he admits that he did not contact Messi at all and that he prefers to concentrate on his own performance during the game. Both players might probably exchange some impressions and words after the highly expected clash will end. In these moments, it maybe will be nice for them to remember that after all its just football. However, it seems that Umtiti’s words and maybe also both players’ behavior after the game can be a good reminder that there are moments in which it is much more than just a game.
Argentina (Yossi Medina)
Argentina's pressure is almost over. After facing the possibility of elimination in the group stage, Argentina managed to complete a wonderful game against Nigeria and reach the round of 16. Sampaoli and his players now left over this pressure and now there is only one tiny expectation that the fans still want their team to achieve – winning the World Cup.
It wouldn't be easy, thanks for both the team's performance until now and the draw. Although Argentina eventually defeated Nigeria, we need to remember that the team showed weak performance in their first two matches. Moreover, Nigeria missed few chances to make the thing a bit complicated for Argentina and no one can promise that France will not use it in order to get an advantage.
If Argentina wants to reach the final, they have to walk through a tough journey. Uruguay or Portugal will wait in the quarter finals, Brazil might be their opponents in the semi finals. These rivals are much stronger than Argentina's opponents in the group stage, so they just can't play in the same level as in the previous stage.
Some optimists say that playing against France can lead to the final, as happened in the history. The teams faced each other twice in the past World Cup, in 1930 group stage and in 1978 group stage. In both of the occasions, Argentina won as part from a journey to the World Cup final.
The fans can be found already everywhere in Kazan. Just like it was in St. Petersburg few days ago, they will bring the Latin vibes to the stadium and will make it to feel like a match in Buenos Aires. With such a support, everybody is ready for their show.