The quarter-final round of the Fifa World Cup 2018 kicks off on Friday with France taking on Uruguay in the first clash of the evening. There is rich footballing history between both nations, who will be eyeing the semi-final spot that is up for grabs.
The build-up to this match has been dominated by individuals, but it may be Uruguay’s almost unbreachable four-man defence which decides the result. Uruguay will, however, be sweating on the fitness of striker Edinson Cavani.
France’s hopes rest on the teenager Kylian Mbappe, while Paul Pogba will also have a point to prove after an ordinary tournament so far.
Here are some interesting statistics ahead of France vs Uruguay:
- The two teams have played each other eight times and Uruguay have the superior head-to-head record, with three wins to France’s one, plus four draws. Their first showdown dates back to the Olympic Football Tournament in 1924, when Uruguay ran out 5-1 winners in the quarter-finals before going on to win the gold medal. The last encounter was a friendly held five years ago, which the South Americans won 1-0 courtesy of a goal by Luis Suarez.
- France are unbeaten in their last four World Cup games, with three wins and a draw.
- That Suarez strike was also the only goal scored in the last five meetings between the teams. France have not found the net against Uruguay since posting their only win against the South Americans, which ended 2-0 in 1985 after Dominique Rocheteau and Jose Toure had hit the target.
- France and Uruguay have squared up three times in the World Cup, all in the first round. A 2-1 Celeste win in 1966 was followed by two 0-0 draws in 2002 and 2010.
- Meanwhile, Uruguay have won four games on the trot, one short of their record winning streak of five matches which they have achieved twice (between 1930 and 1950 and between 1950 and 1954).
- France have reached the quarter-finals for the second consecutive campaign, having been eliminated in this round four years ago at the hands of the eventual champions Germany. By contrast, Uruguay return to the last eight after an eight-year absence.
- Uruguay have won their last four World Cup duels against European opponents. The most recent victory by a UEFA team over Los CharrCias was achieved by Germany, who prevailed 3-2 in 2010. Since that reverse, the Uruguayans overcame England and Italy in 2014, followed by Russia and Portugal in 2018.
- France have accumulated five wins and four draws since their last defeat by South American opponents in the World Cup, 2-1 at the hands of Argentina in 1978. Uruguay are the third South American side to face France in this edition, after Peru and Argentina.
- France won two of the three World Cup games in which they were taken into extra time, compared with a mixed record (2-2) in penalty shoot-outs. Uruguay have only gone beyond regular time once, outsmarting Ghana on penalties in the 2010 quarter-finals.
- This is the second World Cup fixture that Uruguay have contested on 6 July. The first one culminated in a 3-2 semi-final defeat by the Netherlands in 2010.
- A total of eight members of the French and Uruguayan squads were involved in the pair’s showdown in the 2013 final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which Les Bleus won 4-1 on penalties after a goalless draw. The South Americans fielded Jose Gimenez, Diego Laxalt, Guillermo Varela, Giorgian De Arrascaeta (who missed a penalty) and Gaston Silva who captained the side, while Ruben Bentancur was on the bench. The French line-up included Alphonse Areola, who saved two penalties, as well as Florian Thauvin and Paul Pogba, who was captain and converted the first spot-kick. Samuel Umtiti was suspended.
- This will be the 20th World Cup match overseen by Oscar Tabarez, who moves up to joint-fourth in the all-time coaches’ appearance table alongside Bora Milutinovic and Mario Zagallo. The top three are Helmut Schon with 25, Carlos Alberto Parreira on 23 and Luiz Felipe Scolari with 21.
- This is also an important game for Didier Deschamps, as it is his tenth World Cup game in charge of France, taking him level with Raymond Domenech (2006-2010) and Michel Hidalgo (1978-1982) at the top of the rankings. Deschamps is the only one of the trio to have qualified Les Bleus for the second stage twice.
- The former defensive midfielder made his debut as France coach on 15 August 2012, overseeing a 0-0 draw against current opponents Uruguay. He then faced La Celeste again in June 2013, losing 1-0. On both occasions, Oscar Tabarez was in the opposing dugout.
With inputs from AFP
Stats courtesy Fifa.com