World Cup: World Cup: Saturday’s matchups
WORLD CUP ROUND OF 16
FRANCE VS. ARGENTINA
Where: Kazan, Russia
Time: 7 a.m. PDT.
TV: Fox, Telemundo.
The buzz: France is unbeaten but so far unimpressive while Argentina barely slipped through group play, needing a goal with four minutes left against Nigeria to advance to the knockout phase. Now both teams get a chance to start over. Lionel Messi scored his first goal of the tournament in the win over Nigeria, Argentina’s only victory so far. He carried Argentina to the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil and he’ll probably need to get hot again if the team is to go far in Russia. France, which won its group, has one goal in three games and though the only score it allowed was on a penalty kick, this team is built to win on offense, not defense. Griezmann, Pogba, Giroud and Co. need to come alive to keep France from going home.
URUGUAY VS. PORTUGAL
Where: Sochi, Russia
Time: 11 a.m. PDT.
TV: Fox, Telemundo.
The buzz: Cristiano Ronaldo narrowly escaped a red card in Portugal’s group-stage finale, which would have left him ineligible for this game. That referee’s decision could prove huge since Ronaldo has four of Portugal’s five goals here, including a late equalizer and a game-winner. Portugal started slow in the last European Championship, going winless in group play and advancing to the knockout round as a third-place team. But it gave up one goal the rest of the way, winning four straight games — only one of which ended in regulation — to win its first major international title. More than half the players from that team are on the roster here, so Portugal is experienced playing under pressure. Uruguay, a group champion, is the only team that has yet to allow a goal in this World Cup. It won its first two games 1-0, then came alive in the group-stage finale, blitzing Russia 3-0 while getting goals from both Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani. That’s a good sign if you’re a Uruguay fan.
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