Steely Uruguay ready for Mbappe-fired France

raphael varane

Uruguay are so good defensively, and if they can put the stops on Kylian Mbappe then they stop France.

The two former tournament winners face each other in Nizhny Novogrod with a place in the World Cup semi-finals at stake, but the potential absence of one of Uruguay's key men could deliver an early advantage to France.

The mouth-watering last-eight tie in Nizhny Novgorod is likely to be decided by a battle between Uruguay's stifling back-line and the speed of Mbappe, 19.

They passed through the group stage without conceding a goal, and the only player to score against Uruguay was Portugal's Pepe in the last 16, and that was ultimately in vain.

With a defence built around the central pairing of Jose Gimenez and the vastly experienced 32-year-old Diego Godin - they also play together at Atletico Madrid - Uruguay have won all four games in Russian Federation, conceding a solitary goal.

It is a tough assignment for France and any hope that their stars will enjoy the same space they found in their 4-3 win against a disorganised Argentina have already been extinguished.

While Uruguay can not boast individuals on a par with Lionel Messi, whose team was thoroughly bested by France on Saturday, Uruguay will be a tougher test for Didier Deschamps' men compared to their South American counterparts.

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"France's strongest points are the attackers, Griezmann and Mbappe", Uruguay's veteran coach Oscar Tabarez said in his understated yet determined way after the Portugal victory.

Between them, the experienced defence have over 350 worldwide caps between them.

And he has also insisted that he is happy to cede possession to France in a bid to make the last four.

The match will also showcase several cross-border friendships.

But in Kylian Mbappe, they have just the man to do it. Cavani's PSG teammate has announced himself on the world stage in Russian Federation, scoring twice (and winning a penalty) in the win against Argentina, drawing comparisons to Brazilian Ronaldo along the way.

Godin and Gimenez are colleagues - and close friends - with Griezmann, Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi play for Juventus, while Luiz Suarez and French defender Samuel Umtiti play for Barcelona.

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