France 4-3 Argentina: How the players fared

GK Franco Armani, 5 -- Not much he could do about the penalty, but he looked flat-footed for Benjamin Pavard's goal, and allowed Kylian Mbappe's first to squirm under his body when he really should have done better.

DF Gabriel Mercado, 4 -- Struggled against the counter in the first half, and along with his defence and midfield colleagues, crumbled as the second wore on.

DF Nicolas Otamendi, 4 -- Otamendi was on course for a 5 here, for merely being the least bad of Argentina's defenders, until his stupid booking and time-wasting argument in stoppage time when his side needed all the seconds they had to try and grab an equaliser.

DF Marcos Rojo, 4 -- Good against Nigeria, but much less impressive here -- in the first half France had three dangerous counter-attacks, and two of them were targeted squarely at Rojo, who failed to respond. Gave away the penalty and was substituted at half-time.

DF Nicolas Tagliafico, 5 -- As in other matches in this tournament, it's difficult to say Tagliafico did an awful lot wrong (in comparison to his teammates), but also hard to pick out what he did right, beyond one or two timely interventions.

MF Enzo Perez, 5 -- Part of a midfield that was being overrun even before he was taken off to make way for Aguero. The system left him seeming confused as to what he should be doing, and he never found the passing range he'd shown against Croatia (in the first half) and Nigeria.

MF Javier Mascherano, 4 -- Not everyone agreed that he had a poor game against Nigeria; surely not everyone will agree now, either. And it's not entirely Mascherano's fault -- he was left alone in midfield against a rapid counter-attacking side in a display which brought back memories of the Diego Maradona-managed exit from the 2010 World Cup against Germany. Confirmed his international retirement after the match. Had he done so six months or a year ago, perhaps Argentina could have built something more solid here.

MF Ever Banega, 6 -- Again, not entirely his fault, given that the formation demanded he play higher up the pitch than in his game-running display against Nigeria, and as a result Banega didn't find his passing range until Sergio Aguero's introduction allowed him to drop deeper -- and then only tentatively.

FW Cristian Pavon, 6 -- A winger without a centre-forward to cross to can only do so much. And Pavon did what, given his role and abilities, he had presumably been put in the team to do. For that reason he gets the "starting" mark of 6.

FW Angel Di Maria, 7 -- A beautiful strike for Argentina's equaliser and a bright start to the second half were all that was needed for Di Maria to lay claim to being Argentina's best player. And given his displays in recent years, when Di Maria is Argentina's best player, it's clear something has gone wrong.

FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- Messi flourished playing just to the right of a centre-forward against Nigeria... so here Sampaoli named him as a false 9. With no central attacking partner, Messi was once again expected to be both creator and finisher, but he can't pass the ball to himself. His beautiful assist for Aguero's late goal to give Argentina hope was a frustrating glance of what might have been had the system been different from the start.


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