Argentina vs France
6th December, Thursday, 19:00 IST
Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar
Argentina will clash with France in the 18th match of the 2018 Hockey World Cup.
Los Leones are the clear favourites going into the match as they are the World number 2 side. France, on the other hand, are the lowest ranked team in the competition with a Rank of 20.
Argentina’s first match against Spain was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining contest in the World Cup so far. 5 goals were scored in the first quarter itself. The seven-goal thriller eventually ended with Argentina winning 4-3. Los Leones went down twice in the first quarter but proved why they were the 2016 Rio Olympics champions with a terrific fightback. Agustin Mazzilli and drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat scored a brace each in the win.
Germán Orozco and his troops looked much more like a champion team when they defeated New Zealand comfortably in their 2nd match. Mazzilli, Lucas Vila, and Lucas Martínez found the back of the net in the 3-0 win. Argentina are already through to the knockout stages and realistically will be the Pool A toppers even before they play against France.
Defeating Les Blues should not be much of a problem for them and the previous editions’ Bronze medalists are expected to enter the quarters with 3 wins out of 3.
France, despite being the lowest ranked team in the competition, have given some resolute performances so far. They are making their first appearance in the World Cup since 1990.
The Victor Charlet-led team gave New Zealand a huge scare in their first match but eventually lost 1-2. Charlet scored from a Penalty Corner in the 59th minute but it was too little too late and only a consolation goal. However, Jeroen Delmee would be extremely proud of how his boys performed.
The French dominated the statistical charts, with 8 shots on goal compared to New Zealand’s 6, having 22 circle entries, 9 more than the 13 New Zealand could manage. If only their finishing was more clinical it would have been a fairytale story.
France earned 1 point from their match against Spain. Timothée Clément scored for them in the 1-1 draw. They led for most of the game but Álvaro Iglesias’ goal rescued the Spanish team.
Les Blues are capable of causing problems but upsetting a team like Argentina may be out of bounds for now. France would hope that they can evade defeat in the upcoming match and hope for Spain to lose against New Zealand. This way, they would at least get a chance to prove themselves in the crossover stages. Things are heating up in Pool A as teams are expected to give it their all in a bid to enter the knockout stages.
Form Guide (most recent to oldest, pre-season):
Argentina: W W W W W (excellent form)
France: D L L W W (average form)
Head to Head:
Won by Argentina: 1
Won by France: 1
Probable Starting XI:
Juan Manuel Vivaldi (goalkeeper), Gonzalo Peillat, Pedro Ibarra, Juan Ignacio Gilardi, Matías Rey, Juan Martín López, Ignacio Ortiz, Agustín Mazzilli, Lucas Vila, Lucas Martínez, Joaquín Menini
Arthur Thieffry (goalkeeper), Victor Charlet, Tom Genestet, Victor Lockwood, François Goyet, Aristide Coisne, Charles Masson, Hugo Genestet, Blaise Rogeau, Timothée Clément, Gaspard Baumgarten
My Dream XI
Goalkeeper: Juan Manuel Vivaldi
The Argentinian custodian is 39 years old but still the first choice goalkeeper for Los Leones. He made a few good saves in the 4-3 win against Spain and also fulfilled his duties whenever called into action against New Zealand.
Alternate: Arthur Thieffry
Defence: Gonzalo Peillat, Victor Charlet, Tom Genestet, Pedro Ibarra
Gonzalo Peillat is an absolute treat to watch. The 26-year-old drag-flicker was the top scorer in the 2014 World Cup with 10 goals to his name. He has already scored a brace in the first match against Spain and is likely to keep scoring goals as and when his side get Penalty corner opportunities.
Victor Charlet has led the French from the front. He is always at the heart of the action whenever his team have the ball and is very dangerous during penalty corners. With over 100 caps for the national team, the 25-year-old is one of the most experienced candidates in the team.
Tom Genestet is having a great campaign and has made some timely interceptions and tackles to deny the opposition.
Pedro Ibarra, Argentina’s 33-year-old captain is the backbone of the team. He has a phenomenal 250 caps for the national team and was a crucial figure in the team which won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Midfield: Matías Rey, Charles Masson, Juan Martín López
Matias Rey was particularly impressive for Los Leones in the middle of the field and had vital contributions in creating many of their chances.
Charles Masson had decent outings in the first two games and acted as the pivot between the French backline and forwards. The 26-year-old will have to step his game up even further if he wants to give his team even an outside chance against Argentina.
Juan Martín López is the 2nd most experienced player in the Argentinian squad after Matías Paredes. The 33-year-old was swift with the ball in both the matches and even beat younger opponents with his speed and skill.
Alternative: François Goyet in place of Charles Masson
Forward: Lucas Vila, Agustín Mazzilli, Timothée Clément
The experienced Lucas Vila failed to make much of an impact in the game against Spain but gave Argentina their 2nd goal in the 3-0 win over New Zealand. He has found his form now and that can only mean danger for the opposition.
Agustín Mazzilli is one of the most prolific forwards in World Hockey currently. He is also the current joint top scorer (along with Simranjeet Singh of India and Jeroen Hertzberger of the Netherlands) at the 2018 Hockey World Cup with 3 goals. The 29-year-old is prolific whenever he enters the circle and also clinical with his finishing. A look at the two goals he scored against Spain show the calibre he has and the razor fast reflexes he still possesses.
Timothée Clément, the young 18-year-old forward of France, gave his side the lead unexpectedly in the match against Spain. Much is not known about the youngster and this fact can act in his favour.
Alternate: Lucas Martinez in place of Lucas Vila
Captain: Gonzalo Peillat
Vice-captain: Agustín Mazzilli/Victor Charlet
Player to watch out for: Gonzalo Peillat
Gonzalo Peillat is expected to fire in more goals if Argentina get a few penalty corners. His drag flicks are precise and powerful at the same time and they leave the oppositions’ keeper little chance.