Sports

Argentina vs. France: Expert Predictions, Betting Odds, Preview for Round of 16 World Cup Match

Now the real tension begins. 

Saturday marks the start of the knockout stage of the World Cup (full schedule here) meaning you lose and you're out. The Round of 16 matches will kick-off at 10 a.m. eastern time when Argentina is scheduled to take on France. It's a showdown of two very talented squads.

As usual, much of the attention will be placed on Argentine Lionel Messi, perhaps the greatest soccer player ever. France, however, has looked like a solid squad. Les Bleus have conceded just one goal in the tournament in Russia and that came on a penalty kick.

France's Samuel Umtiti—a teammate of Messi's at Barcelona—said things are tougher on the star when he's playing for Argentina. "He is different with Argentina than with Barcelona," Umtiti said during the lead-up to the Round of 16 match, according to Reuters. "He does not have the same players with him and their way of playing is different but he has saved them on several occasions."

messi Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Messi scored against Nigeria in Argentina's final group stage match, helping boost the nation into the knockout stage. It was a remarkable goal in which he displayed tremendous control, taking down a ball in the air, and supplying a wonderful touch as he slotted home a shot past Nigeria's keeper. Still, it took a stunning strike in the 86th minute from Marcos Rojo to put away the Nigerian side by a score of 2-1—thus securing Argentina's spot in the knockout stage. France, meanwhile, earned their way into the next round with an insipid 0-0 draw against Denmark. 

Oddsmakers give both squads a decent chance at winning the whole tournament, but obviously they'll need to get through Saturday first. France is considered a slight favorite. According to Odds Shark, their odds in the match are set at +137 while Argentina is +258. 

The experts seem to favor France as well. BBC Sports Mark Lawrenson picked them to win by a score of 2-1. The model from data-focused website FiveThirtyEight gave France a 55 percent chance of winning and Argentina, of course, a 45 percent chance. Sports Illustrated's Planet Fútbol, meanwhile, predicted a 3-2 win for France.

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