France methodical rather than magic as they beat Uruguay to make World Cup last-four

France methodical rather than magic as they beat Uruguay to make World Cup last-four
Antone Griezmann set the first goal up and scored the other as Les Bleus made the last-four in Russia.
Updated 06 July 2018

France methodical rather than magic as they beat Uruguay to make World Cup last-four

France methodical rather than magic as they beat Uruguay to make World Cup last-four
  • France fail to entertain but see off the challenge of Luis Saurez and Co.
  • Set to face winner of Brazil vs Belgium.

Unlike in their 4-3 victory over Argentina, France did not play brilliantly, in fact they did little that will live in the memory longer that 24 hours. But if anything Les Bleus’ win over Uruguay, achieved at a stroll, was far more impressive than the demolition job over Lionel Messi and Co. and illustrates why France can go all the way in Russia.
The South Americans came into the match having conceded only once and with a defense considered the best in the tournament. That France were able to pick them off with apparent ease sends as much of a warning to their rivals as the stunning show against Argentina.
The tone, for what was a drab affair without much of the tension you would associate with a last-eight clash, was set early on. Uruguay defended deep, unsettled France’s rhythm and did what they did best: Make the match as much of an arm wrestle as possible. It did not make for great viewing, but the South Americans do not care about that.
In the past this France side has struggled against such frustrating tactics. Not so this time. Displaying maturity rather than magic, Didier Deschamps’ side bided their time and refused to panic.
The first gilt-edged opportunity fell to Kylian Mbappe in the 25th minute. The man of the moment had an age to bring the ball down and fire into the net with just Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal to beat. But he inexplicably decided to head it first time, the ball going high over the bar.
But France did not have to wait long to break the deadlock. With five minutes until the break, Antoine Griezmann floated in a free-kick, a Raphael Varane header giving Muslera no chance.
The goal summed up the first half, nothing to write home about, but, for France at least, well executed.
The second period followed much the same script, France seeing most of the ball without creating much, and Uruguay, missing the injured Edinson Cavani, creating even less.
The winner was scrappy and something that will give Muslera nightmares for years. Griezmann hit a speculative shot from outside the area which looked like it was harmlessly traveling into the arms of the Uruguay keeper. Muslera, however, just flapped at it and sent the ball into the empty net.
If there is one thing more inexplicable than that howler, it is how Deschamps has made a France side packed full of exciting talent seem so dull. But for the time being France will not care about that 
mystery. They have found a way to win, unentertaining though it may be. They were composed rather than classy, but in Russia that may well be enough to see them lift the trophy.