Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembélé are moving on to the World Cup semi-final thanks to a 2-0 win over Luis Suárez and Uruguay on Friday’s early quarterfinal. The entire 90 minutes were highly competitive, but France were the better team throughout the game and deserved to win and move on.
The opening period wasn’t a great watch, and that’s because Uruguay executed their gameplan to perfection: they wanted to defend deep, pressure the French and frustrate them to death with annoying fouls and time-wasting. Les Bleus tried really hard to create chances, but there was just no space and the Uruguayan defense sniffed out any danger as soon as it appeared.
But France never stopped trying, and they finally got a goal when Corentin Tolisso was brought down at the edge of the box. Antoine Griezmann took the set piece perfectly and played a gorgeous ball to the head of Raphaël Varane, who found the bottom corner and gave his team the lead.
Uruguay went forward as soon as they conceded and had two very good set piece chances, one of which produced the save of the tournament when Hugo Lloris pulled out an incredible stop on a Martin Cáceres header.
We reached halftime with five very good minutes of football after France scored, and the second half promised even more fun.
Uruguay needed to go forward more and try to find an equalizer, but France did a very good job of keeping the ball and maintaining control of the match. After 15 minutes the South Americans made two attacking changes to look for a goal, but right after the substitutions Fernando Muslera made an unbelievable goalkeeping error trying to save a shot by Antoine Griezmann and the French were two goals up and closer to the semi-final.
The Sky Blues were behind and desperate, and when Kylian Mbappé did his best Neymar impression by exaggerating contact and rolling on the floor, Uruguay lost their heads and could not put together any meaningful offense for the rest of the match. France were just happy to run the clock out and book their place in the Final Four.
This wasn’t a World Cup classic, but it was extremely competitive and worth the watch. Umtiti and Dembélé are still alive, but they now have to have either Brazil or Belgium. Oh dear.
Uruguay: Muslera; Cáceres, Godín, Giménez, Laxalt; Nández (Urretaviscaya), Torreira, Vecino; Bentancur (Rodríguez); Stuani (Gómez), Suárez
France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernández; Pogba, Kanté, Tolisso (N’Zonzi); Griezmann; Mbappé (Dembélé), Giroud
Goals: Varane (40’), Griezmann (61’)