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Messi and Cristiano step aside, Mbappe reaches a new level


The World Cup is left without Messi and Cristiano, and also, I fear, Edinson Cavani, Uruguay’s hero against Portugal, who he left the game yesterday due to a calf injury. Cavani had a superb game, scoring two goals, and received great support from his strike partner, Luis Suarez. Uruguay played just as well in defence, fending off the Portuguese siege. Diego Godin and José María Giminez, who were very well surrounded, protected the fort and only let in one goal – a stunning header from Pepe.

Ronaldo was lively and itching to score, but he could not find the back of the net. He leaves the World Cup and will be remembered for his incredible performance and hat trick against Spain. That he can take home from Russia.

Messi, however, can take home a lot less; and Argentina… nothing. Messi had another quiet game – save a few flashes of brilliance – for an Argentina side that was disorganised and unable to manage the incredible Kylian Mbappe. The French teenager has presented his credentials to become the next greatest player in the world. In a well-organized French team, with Griezmann assuming the leadership, Mbappe was the difference, earning his side a penalty (when he was taken down in the box after an incredible run in which his speed picked up after 60 meters) and scoring two goals. France and Uruguay deserve their places in the quarter finals. The two sides will meet on Friday at 16:00 (CEST). The bad news is that Cavani will not be there, but at least Mbappe will.

And today it’s Spain’s turn. Six days have passed since the disappointing performance against Morocco and the players have a chance to banish the ghosts from that game and remind each other that they were group winners and are undefeated at this tournament. Their opponents Russia, meanwhile, beat Saudi Arabia and Egypt well, but were terrible against Uruguay. If Spain play as they know how, they can happily look forward to the next game against Croatia or Denmark.