The World Cup has already sprung a number of surprises in the first two weeks of the competition, the biggest of which was the ousting of the defending champions Germany who failed to make it out of the group stages for the very first time. This has led to an every greater interest in the competition as millions of eyes have been glued to television sets around the globe.
After a one day break the competition resumes with the round of 16 and it is hard to ask for a more intriguing game to get the ball rolling. Two former champions, France and Argentina will meet in the first match of the round and this is sure to capture the largest audience of the tournament so far.
France topped Group C with seven points following two wins and a draw to ease into the second round while hardly seeming to get out of second gear. Argentina on the other hand left it late to eke out a 2-1 win over Nigeria to squeeze into the second round with four points from Group D, finishing behind winners Croatia.
Lionel Messi who had been virtually missing in the first two game, got the opener for Argentina as he inspired them to the last 16.
The man dubbed the best in the world will have to come good to get his team past Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba who have the perfect foil in N’Golo Kante to protect both them and the back four should Didier Dechamps decide to use him in central midfield.
Argentina’s less than inspiring first two games, which saw them earn a single point, gave way to a much improved third game which has raised the hopes of a nation and their fans worldwide.
Jorge Sampaoli has come in for much criticism for his tactics and his different team selections and has looked nervous and agitated on the sidelines. He will need to display a much calmer disposition and transmit this to his players as they come face to face with a very talented French team.
Javier Mascherano is their most capped player and he will need to be a rock at the heart of their defence if they are to remain in the tournament.
Uruguay and Portugal will feature in the second game of the day in what is certain to be just as intriguing as the first.
Cristiano Ronaldo produced the first hat-trick of the World Cup when he hit three past Spain to earn his team a come-from-behind 3-all draw in their first match of the competition. He has four goals in the competition so far and will be looking to get on the score sheet when he comes face to face with Barcelona rival Luis Suarez.
Suarez got his first goal at Russia 2018 when his team beat the hosts 3-0 and his strike partner Edinson Cavani also got his first goal in the same game. Uruguay are the first winners of the World Cup but have not won it since 1950.
It has been a 68 year drought for La Celeste but their opponents have NEVER won the coveted title. Portugal are the reigning European champions but will forever be considered underachievers until they win the ultimate title.
Today promises to be a real treat for lovers of the beautiful game but more significantly, D-Day for at least one former champion who will have to pack their bags and go home.