Argentina vs France
Rodrigo De Paul is a necessary cog to the Argentinian machine. His 5 fouls (0.91 P/90), and 1.82 tackles P/90 are a byproduct of the hard work that he put in on the pitch (11.12km covered P/90). Such a work ethic will see him come face to face with the entirety of the French midfield, and tackles and fouls are likely as a result.
Griezmann and Tchouameni (1.54 and 1.43 fouls drawn P/90 respectively), will prove enough of a test for the energetic, and hard-working, De Paul to deal with as he covers every blade of grass. Not only that, but he will likely be the player that offers support to right-back Nahuel Molina in dealing with Mbappe, such is his starting position. Expect De Paul to look to stop him early before the talismanic French winger can get a clean run at his compatriot.
Despite missing the semi-final through illness, Rabiot tops the foul charts for France with 7. 1, 1, 2, and 3 fouls in each of his 4 starts puts him at 1.63 fouls P/90, the highest average of the French squad.
Again, he will be up against the dynamic pairing of Mac Allister and De Paul, but with more of a licence to roam than his compatriot Tchouameni, there’s every chance that gets caught making lunging tackles out of position, a particular problem given the amount of ground that De Paul is likely to cover (11.12km P/90).
With just 3 fouls across the tournament, at an average of 0.57 fouls P/90, Nahuel Molina’s stats don’t necessarily scream fouls. However, against Kylian Mbappe, the Argentine faces a combination of pace and quality that he’s not quite faced before. Molina’s duel record is poor at this World Cup, and having only won 8 out of 20, he could well be in for a long afternoon against one of the best in the World.
Mbappe has drawn 1.32 fouls P/90, and he’ll surely be looking to go up a level here. The Frenchman attempts 8.11 dribbles P/90, and given that Molina is only successful in stopping 50% of the dribbles he faces, a potential 4 successful dribbles from Mbappe could lead to a Molina foul as he attempts to claw his way back at the PSG man.
Within the French squad, only midfield compatriot Adrien Rabiot (7) can boast more fouls than Tchouameni (6) in the 2022 World Cup. 1 foul against both Poland and Denmark, and a further 2 against each of Tunisia and England puts him at 1.07 fouls P/90.
In Lionel Messi, Tchouameni faces his toughest test yet. The Argentinian captain (3.17 fouls drawn P/90), will likely drop into pockets of space, whisking Tchouameni’s attention away from others. If that wasn’t bad enough, then the supporting cast of Mac Allister and De Paul (2.08, and 1.67 fouls drawn P/90 respectively) should cause further problems.
More known for his flair play, and fleet-of-foot runs down the right wing, Dembele’s defensive stats are surprisingly the ones that stand out. 1.15 fouls P/90, and 2.50 tackles P/90 evidences a willingness to work, something often missing from his game. Dembele has committed at least 1 foul in each of starts at the World Cup, and gave away 2 on his way to a yellow against England.
He’ll have a hard time tracking the marauding runs of Marcos Acuna. The Argentinian left-back has been fouled 2.57 times P/90 at the World Cup, and his 1.71 dribbles P/90 have been helpful in pinning back forward players thus far. Acuna even won a penalty against the Netherlands, further evidence of the kind of player that Dembele will be dealing with today.