A couple of years ago I would have never thought I would be able to stream quality videos on a while flying 30,000 feet in the air. Today, I streamed the France vs. Argentina World Cup Round of 16 game while flying 40,000 feet in the air using the flight’s entertainment system. An Oh, I watched it on a bar in an A380.
A superstar in the making, Kylian Mbappe scored a brace as France sent Lionel Messi and Argentina packing in a 4-3 thriller. Argentina were coming in as underdogs having squeezed their way past the group of death. Argentina found themselves down 1-0 early on in the game after Griezmann calmly converted a penalty. All signs indicated that they would capitulate from here but they rallied back to take a 2-1 lead in the opening minutes of the second half by outstanding goals from Di Maria and Gabriel Mercado. But a quick fire brace from Mbappe put France in the driver seat as they nervously saw out the game.
Seven minutes into the opening game of the first knockout game of the tournament, France got off to a bright start through the devastating runs by Mbappe who drew a free kick. Griezmann was unlucky not to convert as his shot from 25 yards out richkotiated off the cross bar. After 11 minutes, another of Mbappe’s deadly runs found him in the Argentinean third before he was brought down by Marcos Rojo in the penalty box. After a VAR check was carried out to confirm that Rojo’s challenge was indeed deserving of a penalty, Rojo was booked and Griezmann sent Argentina’s keeper Armani the wrong way to give Deschamp’s side the early lead.
Argentina dominated the ball for long stretches of the first half while France sat back and absorbed pressure and attempted to beat Argentina off the counter. While both sides created opportunities, neither was able to capitalize. But out of nothing, in the waning minutes of the first half, Di Maria found himself with ample room and sent the ball curling into the top right corner from 30 yards out from a sublime left-footed side to draw level. Di Maria’s goal puts him in contention for goal of the tournament – though this is but a mere consolation prize for the winger and Argentina.
Argentina started off the second half by substituting Marcos Rojo off for Fazio. Within moments, Di Maria won a free kick from which his side turned the match around. The ball was floated into the box and was poorly cleared to find Messi. He was able to low strike off that was deflected by Gabriel Mercado to beat Lloris and give Argentina the unlikeliest of leads.
France dug deep and showed the resolve that is expected from the elite teams. Fazio nearly gifted Griezmann an equalizer as his horrible back-pass somehow did not find its way in the back of the net. Deschamp’s side had to only wait for seconds to draw level as Pavard’s sensational half-volley shot went scorching into the back of the net. Seven minutes later, France found themselves ahead once for a second time after Mbappe got the goal he so handsomely earnt; he tucked his shot under the outstretched arms of Armani.
Argentina’s manager Sampaoli responded by bringing on Aguero and Enzo Perez to revitalize the spirts of the visibly downhearted side. Nevertheless, their troubles only grew as once France once again broke down Argentina’s defenders off the counter and Mbappe got his second in an exceptional afternoon to bury his finish into the bottom corner. Giroud could it made it five for the night though he hammered his left-footed shot into the side netting.
With believe draining from the faces of Argentina, Matuidi and goal scorer Pavard got themselves booked. Messi had looked dejected and was unable to invoke anything to try and rally his team back. In the last minutes of added time, Aguero nodded in a third for Argentina but it was too little too late. His goal was only a glimmer of false hope as Argentina’s night had already ended.
France won an electrifying game and were the better side from start-to-finish. They look ahead to the winner of Uruguay vs. Portugal (Easily the most boring match of the last 16. Thank God for the long lines in immigration else the football fan in me will convince my rational side to watch this mind-numbing encounter).