Argentina vs. France
9 a.m. • Kazan, Russia • Ch. 9
Though Lionel Messi is the five-time FIFA Player of the Year, he has a reputation — fairly earned or not — for failing to come through for his national team in the biggest moments. This year’s Argentina team has shown signs of dysfunction and an outsized dependence on the 31-year-old Messi, who got his first goal of the tournament in a 2-1 victory over Nigeria that put his team into the knockout round. France has had its own problems; the French have lacked cohesion and their offensive stars have yet to shine, and their victories over Australia and Peru were far from decisive.
Uruguay Vs. Portugal
1 p.m. • Sochi, Russia • Ch. 9
Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has not been shy about embracing what could be his final World Cup, scoring four goals and carrying his team to victories in its first two matches. At 33, the fanatically well-conditioned Ronaldo still appears to have the physical gifts of his youth, but whether he can break through against Uruguay will determine his World Cup legacy. Uruguay’s defense might be a problem in Sochi; La Celeste has yet to give up a goal in seven matches this year, while star Luis Suarez — who bit an opponent at the previous World Cup — has shined in Russia while keeping his teeth to himself.