FIFA World Cup 2018 Update | France, Argentina, Uruguay, Portugal all set for Round of Sixteen
With the last 16 selected, the FIFA World Cup Round of Sixteen is all set to begin on Saturday. Following the group stage, the knockout round is the second and final stage of the competition.
The first match of the day will be played between France and Argentina in Kazan at 7.30 pm while Uruguay will meet Portugal in Sochi later at 11.30 pm.
France will have the advantage of already having experienced the conditions and the pitch in Kazan pertaining to their opening match at Russia 2018 with a 2-1 win over Australia.
Interestingly, the French have not lost to South American opposition at the FIFA World Cup for 40 years, only Saturday’s match will decide whether they continue with their record or a new feat is set.
There are nine players involved in the France-Argentina match who need to be careful as they could be suspended for the quarter-finals if they receive a yellow card. They are Corentin Tolisso, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi from France and Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Acuna, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega and Lionel Messi from Argentina.
Similarly, there are seven players involved in the Uruguay and Portugal match who are in danger of a suspension and must avoid a yellow card or they will be unavailable for the quarter-finals. They are Rodrigo Bentancur from Uruguay and Bruno Fernandes, Adrien Silva, Raphael Guerreiro, Ricardo Quaresma, Cristiano Ronaldo and Cedric from Portugal.
Meanwhile, World football’s governing body FIFA has announced a new ball that will be used for the knockout phase. The Adidas Telstar Mechta will replace the Telstar 18 used during the group stage of football’s biggest tournament.
The new red design reflects the host nation’s colours and the rising heat of the second half of the competition.
The name Mechta translates as ‘dream’ or ‘ambition’ in Russian and is constructed with the same design elements as the Telstar 18, the ball used throughout the group stage, but adapted to reflect the added intensity and opportunity the knockout stage brings.
The ball has a brand-new carcass that retains the best of the Brazuca, the Official Match Ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, while building in new technology to maximise performance.