Giroud in, Dembele out as France take on Messi’s Argentina
Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud will spearhead France’s attack in their last-16 World Cup match against Argentina on Saturday as Didier Deschamps made six changes from the line-up he fielded in the final group match.
France reached the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago but Deschamps is under pressure to take his star-studded side further in Russia, with former teammate and ex-Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane cited as a potential replacement.
Deschamps opted to deploy the same team in Kazan that eked out a precious 1-0 win over Peru in the group stages.
Barcelona midfielder Ousmane Dembele starts on the bench, with Deschamps opting to line up Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann and Juventus player Blaise Matuidi behind Giroud.
Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante retains the midfield holding role alongside Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.
Five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi will spearhead Argentina, who reached the final in 2014, after they squeezed into the knockout phase courtesy of a late winner from Marcos Rojo against Nigeria.
In his only change from the side that snatched the crucial 2-1 win over Nigeria, in which Messi scored the opener, Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli opted to leave Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain on the bench in favour of Boca Juniors’ Cristian Pavon.
Starting line-ups for the World Cup last-16 match between Argentina and France at Kazan Arena on Saturday (kick-off 1400 GMT)
Hugo Lloris (capt); Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez; Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante; Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi; Olivier Giroud
Coach: Didier Deschamps (FRA)
Franco Armani; Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico; Enzo Perez, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega; Cristian Pavon, Lionel Messi (capt), Angel Di Maria
Coach: Jorge Sampaoli (ARG)
Referee: Alireza Faghani (IRI)
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