Kylian Mbappe Goal Leads France Past Peru to World Cup Round of 16

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2018

France's forward Kylian Mbappe (L) celebrates with teammate France's forward Antoine Griezmann after scoring a goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between France and Peru at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg on June 21, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

France booked their ticket for the round of 16 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Thursday with a 1-0 win over Peru in Group C. Kylian Mbappe scored the only goal in the first half.

The result means Peru can no longer qualify for the knockout stages, while Denmark are in pole position to join Les Bleus.

Here are the key takeaways from this match.

           

Simplicity the Key for Pogba Moving Forward

Paul Pogba played his best outing in the national team shirt in a long time on Thursday, standing out in the first half in particular with some key tackles, great passes and a tricky shot on goal.

His recovery and quick thinking made the first goal happen, as Olivier Giroud's blocked shot landed right in the path of Mbappe:

Too often, Pogba tries to do too much, both for France and Manchester United. The former Juventus man will force things, take too many shots and waste precious energy chasing every ball.

He's far more effective when he lets the game flow in his direction, plays the simple passes and focuses on winning the ball back, like he did against Peru. If the 25-year-old can continue like this, France will be all the better for it in the knockout stages.

   

Deschamps' Tinkering Will Doom French Title Hopes

French manager Didier Deschamps decided to tinker with his lineup yet again, opting to play central midfielder Blaise Matuidi in a wide role while Ousmane Dembele stayed on the bench.

The Barcelona man wasn't the only option many thought was better:

Once again, France struggled to find their rhythm, with the trio of Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Mbappe playing brilliantly together but too often in isolation of the rest of the side.

This isn't the time to experiment—at this stage of the tournament, France should know their system and identity and click like a well-oiled machine. They're beating lower-rated teams on individual talent, instead of bossing the opposition around.

You can get away with that against Peru or Australia, teams who lack the sheer quality to match up. But against the other top contenders, Les Bleus will have to play like a team. So far they haven't, and with Deschamps' insistence on changing things up, it's unlikely that will change in the knockout stages.

       

Australia Won't Beat Peru in Group C Finale

Peru may finish the tournament as the best team without any points—Morocco also have a case—but don't count on it.

The CONMEBOL outfit are a few lucky bounces away from sitting in second place in Group C, and their lack of an efficient striker has really hampered them. Like Australia, they have relied on athleticism and intensity in this tournament, and they have even less to show for it than the Socceroos.

But Paolo Guerrero is slowly rounding into form—even if his aim hasn't been great—and Peru will be desperate to put on a great show in their final match. Combined with the fact the Socceroos have to win to have any chance of qualifying for the next round, and you have all the key ingredients for an upset.

Peru are fast enough to do plenty of damage with counter-attacks, and sooner or later, the ball has to fall for them.

       

What's Next?

Denmark and France will meet on the final matchday in Group C, while Peru face Australia. Both matches will be played simultaneously on Tuesday at 5 p.m. local time (3 p.m. BST/10 a.m. ET).

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