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Argentina wary but confident ahead of France


AFP Bronnitsy (Russia)
Argentina midfielder Giovani Lo Celso said there are "flaws" to exploit against France when the countries meet in the last 16 of the World Cup on Saturday.
Two-time champions Argentina scraped through to the knockout phase as runners-up in Group D following a tense 2-1 win over Nigeria in their final match.
Lo Celso is more familiar than most with Argentina's upcoming opponents as three of his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates -- Kylian Mbappe, Presnel Kimpembe and Alphonse Areola -- are in the France squad.
"We're facing a great opponent, a great team that was unbeaten in the group phase. But we know we're a big team too and we have our weapons. I think it's going to be a great game," Lo Celso said on Thursday.
"The France team, with space and the people they have, can put you in danger. In general it's a very good team and very united.
"But while they have many strengths they also have flaws and we have to take advantage of them." Defender Federico Fazio said Tuesday's victory over Nigeria had boosted the spirit within the camp after a 3-0 loss to Croatia had left Argentina on the verge of elimination.
"It was a different attitude from the whole team, from all the players in the third game," said Fazio.
"I think from the first minute, also knowing what the consequences of not winning were, the team was much more involved, courageous and together." France have never beaten Argentina in a competitive match, the last of which came at the 1978 World Cup, but Les Bleus are one of the favourites for the title.
"France are a big opponent, with great players. We have respect for them but we feel very good," said Fazio. "I think after the win against Nigeria we feel much stronger and more confident.
"We know we have a great team, with great players and the confidence of a big team. We have to make the most of it.

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First Published: Jun 28 2018 | 9:40 PM IST

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