World Cup Recap: Round of 16 Day 1

France crushes Messi’s Argentina, Uruguay puts down Ronaldo’s Portugal

Messi and Argentina are out. Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

The Round of 16 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on Saturday and it featured the two biggest names in world football, also known as soccer. The dream match between Leo Messi’s Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in a World Cup was not to be as France and Uruguay proved to be too strong to overcome.

France 4-3 Argentina

Kazan Arena, Kazan
Attendance: 42,873

The match of the day and what could end up being the match of the tournament kicked off the round of 16 with a seven-goal thriller. The 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe stole the show and was influential in helping a talented French side into the next round. Immediately the youngster's speed was a factor, forcing a penalty in the 11th minute. Antoine Griezmann would convert from the spot for the second time in this tournament to put Les Blues up 1-0 early. Angel Di Maria would answer just before the half, with a long-range rocket in the 41st minute.

Immediately in the second half, Argentina would take the lead with a Gabriel Mercado goal in the 48th minute. Messi got the assist as Mercado redirected the ball past French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. France would retake the momentum with what Ian Darke would call “an absolute firecracker” from Benjamin Pavard that is arguably the new goal of the tournament. The 22-year-old’s goal would be followed up by Mbappe’s appearance on the scoresheet, making it 3-2 France in the 64th minute. As they say, “speed kills” as the speedy Mbappe made it 4-2 France with another score four minutes later. Argentina would make it 4-3 with a Sergio Aguero goal in second half stoppage time but would fall short of forcing extratime.

Analysis: France is flying high after their most impressive result of the tournament. One of the more talented sides and one of the tournament’s most expensive teams looked like a dangerous contender against a talented Argentina. The come from behind win, and the dominance in which they took the game, may lack luster to some because of the “hot mess” that Argentina is perceived as but make no mistake, this French side showed plenty of muscle. They will face another tough test in Argentina’s neighbor Uruguay but should they get past them, the sky's the limit.

What to make of Argentina? There will be plenty of talk about the team with one of the world’s best players and what the legacy of Messi will end up being. This World Cup was supposed to be their redemption from falling short in 2014 but the pressure of their expectations may have did them in. Argentina has bigger problems than the on-the-field product so the best solution would be to find stability. Whether that comes in the way of a new coach is to be seen.

Notable stat: Didier Deschamps is now the longest-tenured coach in the history of the French national team after coaching his 80th national team match.

Uruguay 2-1 Portugal

Fisht Stadium, Sochi
Attendance: 44,287

Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez would look to lead Uruguay to its third consecutive round of 16 match at a World Cup. while Cristiano Ronaldo would look to lead Portugal to its first round of 16 since South Africa 2010. Everything to play for with some of the World’s top scorers on display. Both teams went on the offensive early to try and get a quick lead, and wouldn’t you know it, it would be Uruguay who would accomplish such a task thanks to Suarez and Cavani. Suarez, the FC Barcelona scorer, would connect with the French league’s top scorer in Cavani, a turning header in the seventh minute. That would force Portugal to have to chase the game. Portugal would outshoot Uruguay 8-5 but the best opportunities came from free kicks. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez would have a chance to from the set pieces but neither were able to convert. The match would be 1-0 at halftime.

Portugal continued insisting and pulled things level on a corner kick. It would be the long-time defender Pepe who would score with a header of his own in the 55th minute, making him Portugal's oldest scorer at a FIFA World Cup. Unfortunately for Portugal, the former Real Madrid man would mistime a goal kick that would give Uruguay the ball and in two touches it would end with a marvelous curl by Cavani. Uruguay would be up 2-1, withstood Portugal for the rest of the half, and took the win.

Analysis: Uruguay looked strong all around. The Suarez and Cavani duo is one every team wishes to have. Their solidarity in defense is another feature most teams would wish for - Uruguay allowed their first goal of Russia 2018 against Portugal. The bad news is Cavani left with a reported hamstring injury and is doubtful for the next match. They also let Portugal have a little too much freedom in attack, something they would be playing with fire if they do the same with France. But they say defense wins championships so let’s see how far they can go.

Portugal, on the other hand, may not have deserved to go this far. They looked bad in their last two group games and could’ve lost both. Cristiano Ronaldo could not carry the team, which was too much to ask, and Portugal fans may be wondering what they could be if they had another talented player that could have helped the reigning FIFA Player of the Year. The question now will be if Ronaldo will stay with the national team for Euro 2020 or bid farewell. We may have just seen Ronaldo in his last FIFA World Cup.

Notable stat: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo remain goal-less in the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup.

Programming note: Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis will be broadcasting from The Gorgeous Gael (5555 Morningside Dr. Houston, TX 77005) with a two-hour LIVE show, airing on ESPN 97.5 FM, following the conclusion of the Croatia-Denmark match on Sunday.

Listen to Glenn Davis break down Saturday’s matches by listening to the Soccer Matters podcast, available on iTunes, Google Play Music and PodcastArena.com/SoccerMatters

Remaining Round of 16 Matches (All Times CT):

Sunday, July 1

9 a.m. - Spain vs. Russia (FOX, Telemundo)

1 p.m. - Croatia vs. Denmark (FOX, Telemundo)

Monday, July 2

9 a.m. - Mexico vs. Brazil (FOX, Telemundo)

1 p.m. - Belgium vs. Japan (FOX, Telemundo)

Tuesday, July 3

9 a.m. - Sweden vs. Switzerland (FS1, Telemundo)

1 p.m. - Colombia vs. England (FOX, Telemundo)

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Many of the games have been hard to watch. Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

They say that breaking up is hard to do, then comes the rebuilding, and that's where the real pain happens. Last week, the 4-9 Rockets lost a tough game, 103-91, to the very average San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center. That night, Ben McLemore scored 21 points, while P.J. Tucker contributed four points.

Every other point for the Rockets was scored by a player who wasn't on the team last year. That's no way to build a fan base of young people, or older people, or anybody. Because of COVID restrictions, the Rockets can sell only 3,000 tickets to games, and they're still having to offer special deals like four tickets and four drinks (soda, water, wine or beer) for $79.

The night the Rockets fell to the Spurs, DeMarcus Cousins was out with an ankle injury (surprise), John Wall was out with a sore knee (shock), and Eric Gordon sat with a lower leg injury (stunning). They were not sidelined by COVID protocol, it was age creakiness. All three are on the other side of 30. All have a history of missing games because of injuries. Danuel House also missed the game because of a bad back and COVID protocol.

The Rockets took to the floor with able-bodied Mason Jones, David Nwaba, Rodions Kurucs, Kenyon Martin Jr., Jae'Sean Tate and Christian Wood. They're nice players, for sure, they're on an NBA roster. But the NBA is a megastar-driven operation. How many of them would you recognize if they were standing behind you at Costco? The way the Rockets sign, trade and cut players, many or most of the current roster won't be around next year. Becoming a fan of a current Rocket is like falling in love with the Rug Doctor you rented for the weekend at a supermarket. It's going back Monday.

Last year, the head coach was Mike D'Antoni, the general manager was Daryl Morey. Both are established and respected figures in the league. Would you recognize the Rockets new coach Stephen Silas? Can you even name the Rockets new general manager?

And that's how you sink to 14th place in the Western Conference standings, inevitably a lottery team, the end to the Rockets' eight-year run of making the playoffs … the longest current streak in the NBA. The 2021 Rockets aren't just a lousy product, it's worse, they're a boring team. Gordon and Tucker, maybe the two most popular Rockets veterans, are rumored to be traded soon. Fans will have abandonment issues.

Maybe the Rockets should offer something stiffer than beer on "Guys Night Out" next Thursday when the Portland Trail Blazers visit Toyota Center. Good seats available.

That's not what you want to see

Did you see where the New York Mets fired their general manager Jared Porter because he sent explicit, uninvited, unanswered text messages to a female reporter?. Porter absolutely deserved to lose his job. What he did was awful and cruel. More than just losing his job, he should be committed to a home for the terminally stupid. Who does something that moronic? So unconscionable and abusive, on top of being job-killing.

But not all junk shots are meant to be hurtful – here's one that's actually funny, and totally inadvertent and innocent. Several years ago, a local sportscaster not only took a photo of his naked, anatomically correct body, he posted it on Facebook for all of his friends, indeed the world, to see. I won't name the local sportscaster because he was the victim of his own innocent lack of focus. It could have happened to anybody. Not me, thankfully, but anybody else.

Here's how it happened. The sportscaster was taking a shower, and when he emerged, he noticed his kitten curled up in the bathroom sink. Aw, isn't that cute? The sportscaster grabbed his phone and took a photo.

And posted it on Facebook. He didn't notice that, in the background of the photo, in the mirror, was his naked body. You can't say he was butt naked because it was full frontal nudity. You can't say it was a wardrobe malfunction because there was no wardrobe involved. Fortunately his wife noticed the mishap and told the sportscaster to delete the photo.

Here's the real problem, and his solid alibi. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put huge, wide mirrors in the bathroom, especially opposite the bath tub? There's a good look, you're naked, dripping wet, with patches of soap you missed rinsing off. This should be a fleeting disturbing image, not one to be preserved on film or online. Solution: don't bring your phone, or any photographic equipment, into the bathroom. We've all taken accidental photos. Nobody needs to see a photo of your disgusting body. You are not Michelangelo's statue of David. I don't let my dog watch me take a shower or any other business conducted in the bathroom. There is a reason that bathroom doors have locks. Use them.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome