Across the world, neither of these side’s were seen as favourites to win the tournament in Turkey. But once the squad lists were released and both teams got into their stride it was obvious that they’d make a formidable challenge to any other team bidding to reach the final hurdle.
France’s chances prior to this tournament were boosted heavily by the nation’s failure to participate in the European Under 21 Championship this summer, which left the likes of Paul Pogba and Lucas Digne to participate at this level.
A number of other stars have prevailed since their opening fixture, in which they thrashed Ghana 4-1. The performances of Geoffrey Kondogbia and Arsenal’s new signing Yaya Sanogo have been particular highlights of their competition campaign. Florian Thauvin has developed as the tournament grows older and has definitely became one to watch in the final later today.
Uruguay have reached this stage with a series of late goals. Nicolas Lopez scored in the 84th minute during their second round game against Nigeria. Their quarter final tie against one of the favourites, Spain, was decided in extra-time and their semi-final against Iraq was won on penalties after being behind for the majority of the game.
Gonzalo Bueno and Nicolas Lopez have been key men for the South Americans but their main force remains Sebastian Cristforo, who dictates play from the defensive midfield role.
Uruguay coach Juan Verzezi said ahead of the game against France: “We’ll have try to nullify their potential threat, because the French have a very technical style and, more importantly, experienced players performing for big clubs.
“Keeping Paul Pogba and Geoffrey Kondogbia quiet could be the key to the match, as they both have a wide range of skills – they break up the play and pass the ball on quickly.
“But France have also got two very good wingers, an extremely mobile No9, and a left-back who practically plays as a winger at times.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us. I think we need to look within ourselves, strengthen our resolve and try to produce one last great effort in order to achieve our dream.”
France and Saint Etienne centre back Kurt Zouma told FIFA.com his ideal scenario come late this evening: “0-0, tight game. In the 92nd minute I score with a header in the top corner. Then the final whistle sounds and everyone falls on the ground.” – Fingers crossed we get this sort of excitement!
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