Uruguay vs France
Venue: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
Kick off: 3pm
Edinson Cavani could be missing as Uruguay and France clash for a World Cup semi-final place this afternoon.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker has scored three of Uruguay’s seven goals at this World Cup, including both in their last-16 win over Portugal, and trained on his own on Thursday in the build-up to the quarter-final.
Manager Oscar Tabarez has led the country since 2006, taking them to fourth place in 2010 and a quarter-final defeat by Brazil four years later, but will be desperate to have Cavani back in his line-up against a France side who finally showed their potency in a 4-3 win over Argentina last time out.
“He’s a very important player for us and he was playing very well,” Tabarez said. “As soon as he got injured, he started working hard to recover. He is concentrating on his dreams and his hopes, and that’s what he’s doing right now.
“We issued a press release explaining exactly what kind of exams he had to go through and nobody respected it. People started asking other professionals, people who are not here and don’t know what is going on.
“I’m not going to say anything else about Cavani because I have already given enough information and I don’t want to get into games that are convenient for certain journalists who have a style I don’t share.”
One player who should be in good condition for the game will be Kylian Mbappe, who scored twice in that last-16 victory for France, with reports since emerging Real Madrid had made a bid for the 19-year-old, which the Spanish club later denied in a statement.
France boss Didier Deschamps said the teenager, only the second in history to score twice a World Cup match, was not letting the attention go to his head.
“What he did against Argentina was very good. It put a spotlight on him obviously, and to play like that in such an important match made a name for him,” Deschamps said.
“He’s had time to digest this and I think he’s recovered just like the rest of the team. We’ve all had a few days to recover. On Sunday and Monday we savoured the victory, and from Tuesday we started focusing again. This is how top-level sport is.
“But we must not now relax and think that everything is easy, that life is beautiful and that less effort is needed. But Kylian is smart, he’s listening and he knows all that.”
Uruguay’s style will provide a different test to France than that of Argentina, with their more defensive mindset looking to stifle the kind of free-flowing attacks seen in Saturday’s game.
“It’s a team with a very different profile to Argentina, extremely well-organised in defence and then very dangerous on the counter attacks,” Deschamps added. “We’ll have to be really patient.”