France coach Didier Deschamps will be without Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy because of a muscle injury. Lucas Hernandez should be available and Deschamps is expected to recall the players he rested against Denmark.
Nabil Fekir is pushing for a start after impressive cameos off the bench so far, while right-back Djibril Sidibe may play instead of Benjamin Pavard.
Argentina have no new injury concerns and could stick with the same side that began the 2-1 win against Nigeria.
Midfielder Enzo Perez has a slight thigh problem but should be fit enough to start. This will be Argentina’s 15th game under coach Jorge Sampaoli and it could be the first time he has named an unchanged side.
Two footballing heavyweights who haven’t even come close to finding their best form so far face off in Kazan knowing they are going to have to seriously up their game if they are to win one of the most open World Cups in years.
Argentina’s nerves were jangling before they somehow sneaked through a tumultuous group stage thanks to a rare and priceless goal from defender Marcos Rojo in the 86th minute against Nigeria.
“It was win or die,” said Gonzalo Higuain, while Lionel Messi admitted he “could not remember such suffering before.”
The French, on the other hand, fielded their youngest team in a World Cup game since 1930 in their opening match against Australia. But despite their youthful exuberance they have underwhelmed.
Their passage to the last 16 may have been as serene as Argentina’s was fraught, but coach Didier Deschamps still can’t seem to get the best out of the fabulous array of attacking talent at his disposal.
VIEW FROM BOTH CAMPS
France striker Antoine Griezmann: “I hope to raise my level again in the last 16.
“It was the same at the Euro(s). It wasn’t until the last 16 that I hit my stride. So we’ll see. I have confidence in my game.”
Argentina head coach Jorge Sampaoli on Lionel Messi: “He needs the support from his team-mates, only then will he be able to play at his best.
“His human side is amazing. He is a person who feels, who cries, who suffers, who’s happy when Argentina win. I’ve seen him sad and I’ve seen him happy.
“People have said he doesn’t enjoy playing for Argentina. That’s not true.”
If the Argentina players did have a say in team selection and tactics after their talks with coach Jorge Sampaoli, then one of the decisions they made was to go back to playing with a back four.
Les Bleus have not played anywhere near to their potential yet, and the disjointed performance in their draw with Denmark was not helped by the changes made by boss Didier Deschamps.
Source: BBC News