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.
Edinson Cavani, Uruguay’s star man so far in Russia and goalscoring hero against Portugal last weekend, is a doubt ahead of Uruguay’s last eight match with France on Friday, after the PSG man limped off with an ankle injury - news which will come as a relief to a French defense which conceded three in the last round against an underwhelming Argentina side.
While Uruguay cannot 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.
Even if Cavani is ruled out, Barcelona’s sometimes infuriating frontman Luis Suarez will still be on hand to lead the line and with the outstanding Diego Godin, perhaps the best defender in the entire competition, marshaling their backline it was take a whole lot of French resistance to break down the Uruguayan rearguard.
But in Kylian Mbappe, they have just the man to do it. Cavani’s PSG teammate has announced himself on the world stage in Russia, scoring twice (and winning a penalty) in the win against Argentina, drawing comparisons to Brazilian Ronaldo along the way.
Perhaps worryingly for Les Bleus, their national team has never bested Uruguay in the six meetings between the two nations but it looks as though Djibril Sidibe will be available for selection after the Monaco defender picked up a knock in training.
As for Uruguay, all eyes will be on Cavani when the teams are announced on Friday afternoon and one suspects that Uruguay’s participation in the competition could hinge on the fitness of one of the world’s best strikers.
The winner of the tie faces the winner of Belgium vs. Brazil in the World Cup semi final on Tuesday July 10.