France dispatches Uruguay in game of two keepers, advances to World Cup semis

In the end, it was convincing. For 90 minutes, though, it was formless war. For 90 minutes, France’s World Cup quarterfinal showdown with Uruguay on Friday fell right in line with expectations. It was choppy, as opposed to rhythmic. It was predictably tight.

The first of four 2018 World Cup quarters spent most of its existence crying out for a difference-maker, as a game of such fine margins so often does.

And either side of halftime, two goalkeepers stepped up.

Or, rather, one stepped up and one sunk. France beat Uruguay 2-0 to advance to the semifinals. And above all else, it has the two men at either end of the field to thank.

Hugo Lloris rose to the occasion at one end. Uruguay’s Fernando Muslera did just the opposite at the other. Two moments of brilliance, and a third of misfortune, have Les Bleus two wins away from a second World Cup title.

A game of set pieces and goalkeepers

The truncated story of the first half was one of two set pieces, two headers and one majestic save. The full story was one of French patience and Uruguayan frustration. But we’ll begin with the two decisive moments.

Raphael Varane put France ahead five minutes before halftime with an excellent flick into the far corner of the Uruguayan net.

The free kick routine had been rehearsed, Antoine Griezmann’s hesitation planned, Varane’s run and leap timed to perfection. As far as set pieces go, it was a wonderful goal.

Minutes later, at the other end, Martin Caceres almost answered. His header had eyes for the same far corner. But Lloris had a springy dive and a big right hand for it to keep the game at 1-0:

Whereas Lloris kept France in front – not only with the save, but by putting off Diego Godin on the rebound – his opposite number was eventually at fault when France doubled the lead.

56 PHOTOS
The best photos from the World Cup
See Gallery
The best photos from the World Cup
KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 24: Yerry Mina of Colombia scores his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group H match between Poland and Colombia at Kazan Arena on June 24, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 23: Jerome Boateng of Germany brings down Marcus Berg of Sweden to earn his second yellow card and be sent sent off during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Sweden at Fisht Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 23: Ola Toivonen of Sweden scores his team's first goal past Manuel Neuer of Germany during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Sweden at Fisht Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Brazil's forward Gabriel Jesus (R) vies with Costa Rica's midfielder Bryan Ruiz during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 22, 2018. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 22: Neymar Jr of Brazil reacts following his sides victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Brazil and Costa Rica at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - France's midfielder Blaise Matuidi (L) and Peru's midfielder Edison Flores compete for the ball 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 Jewel SAMAD / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA - JUNE 20: Osama Hawsawi of Saudi Arabia collides with Edinson Cavani of Uruguay during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at Rostov Arena on June 20, 2018 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Iran vs Spain - Kazan Arena, Kazan, Russia - June 20, 2018 Iran's Morteza Pouraliganji reacts REUTERS/John Sibley TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 20: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scores his team's first goal past Monir El Kajoui during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Portugal and Morocco at Luzhniki Stadium on June 20, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Stu Forster/REMOTE/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Poland's goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (C) makes a save from Senegal's forward Moussa Konate (R) as Poland's defender Jan Bednarek (L) looks on during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group H football match between Poland and Senegal at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 19, 2018. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Portugal vs Morocco - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 20, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Egypt vs Uruguay - Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg, Russia - June 15, 2018 Egypt's Amr Warda falls on the pitch REUTERS/Darren Staples TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Russia vs Saudi Arabia - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 14, 2018 Russia's Aleksandr Golovin (not pictured) scores their fifth goal from a free kick REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
TOPSHOT - Uruguay's forward Luis Suarez eyes the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Egypt and Uruguay at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg on June 15, 2018. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 15: Jose Gimenez of Uruguay scores his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Egypt and Uruguay at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 15, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 15: Mohamed Elshenawy of Egypt makes a save during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Egypt and Uruguay at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 15, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Egypt vs Uruguay - Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg, Russia - June 15, 2018 Uruguay's Jose Gimenez scores their first goal REUTERS/Darren Staples TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Egypt vs Uruguay - Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg, Russia - June 15, 2018 Egypt's Tarek Hamed in action with Uruguay's Giorgian De Arrascaeta REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 14: Aleksandr Golovin of Russia scores his team's fifth goal past Abdullah Al Muaiouf of Saudi Arabia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium on June 14, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 15: Jose Gimenez of Uruguay celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Egypt and Uruguay at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 15, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 15: Sam Morsy of Egypt and Edinson Cavani of Uruguay battle for possession during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Egypt and Uruguay at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 15, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group F - Germany vs Mexico - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - June 17, 2018 Germany's Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich in action with Mexico's Hector Moreno, Raul Jimenez and Jesus Gallardo REUTERS/Christian Hartmann TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
TOPSHOT - Mexico's forward Javier Hernandez (R) vies for the ball with Germany's defender Jerome Boateng during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 17, 2018. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 17: Hirving Lozano of Mexico celebrates with Jesus Gallardo by sliding on their knees after scoring his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Mexico's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in action during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 17, 2018. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 16: Enzo Perez of Argentina clears the ball under a challenge by Alfred Finnbogason of Iceland during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Iceland at Spartak Stadium on June 16, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 16: Emil Hallfredsson of Iceland and Javier Mascherano of Argentina battle for possession during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Iceland at Spartak Stadium on June 16, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 16: General view inside the stadium as Argentina fans celebrate as Serigo Aguero of Argentina celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Iceland at Spartak Stadium on June 16, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Harry Kane of England celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Jose Luis Rodriguez and Eric Davis of Panama clash with Dries Mertens of Belgium during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Belgium and Panama at Fisht Stadium on June 18, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - World Cup - Group H - Colombia vs Japan - Mordovia Arena, Saransk, Russia - June 19, 2018 Japan's Yuto Nagatomo in action with Colombia's Juan Fernando Quintero REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
TOPSHOT - Iran's defender Morteza Pouraliganji reacts after defeat during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group B football match between Iran and Spain at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 20, 2018. (Photo by Luis Acosta / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Denmark's defender Simon Kjaer (L) and Australia's midfielder Mile Jedinak (2L) eye the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between Denmark and Australia at the Samara Arena in Samara on June 21, 2018. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 21: A Peru fan cries after defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group C match between France and Peru at Ekaterinburg Arena on June 21, 2018 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
NIZHNY NOVGOROD, RUSSIA - JUNE 21: Wilfredo Caballero of Argentina holds his head in his hands as he stands dejected after his mistake leads to a Croatia goal scored by Ante Rebic (not pictured) during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 21, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Argentina's goalkeeper Willy Caballero misses to save a goal by Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric (unseen) during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Argentina and Croatia at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 21, 2018. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
Costa Rica's defender Bryan Oviedo touches Brazil's forward Neymar's head as he cries after scoring a goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Brazil and Costa Rica at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 22, 2018. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Nigeria's midfielder John Obi Mikel (L) vies with Iceland's forward Jon Bodvarsson during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Nigeria's forward Ahmed Musa (R) and Nigeria's goalkeeper Francis Uzoho celebrate their victory at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 22: Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Serbia and Switzerland at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 22, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 22, 2018: Switzerland's Valon Behrami, Granit Xhaka, and Stephan Lichtsteiner (L-R front) celebrate a goal in a First Stage Group E football match between Serbia and Switzerland at Kaliningrad Stadium (Baltika Arena) at FIFA World Cup Russia 2018. Sergei Fadeichev/TASS (Photo by Sergei Fadeichev\TASS via Getty Images)
23rd June 2018, Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia; FIFA World Cup Football, Group G, Belgium versus Tunisia; Thomas Meunier of Belgium breaks towards goal after beating the offside trap from Tunisia (photo by Ulrik Pedersen/Action Plus via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - South Korea's forward Son Heung-min reacts after scoring their first goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between South Korea and Mexico at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don on June 23, 2018. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexico's defender Carlos Salcedo (L) jumps against South Korea's forward Hwang Hee-chan (R) during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between South Korea and Mexico at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don on June 23, 2018. (Photo by PASCAL GUYOT / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - South Korea's defender Kim Young-gwon (L) and Mexico's forward Javier Hernandez jump for the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between South Korea and Mexico at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don on June 23, 2018. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 23: Toni Kroos of Germany scores his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Sweden at Fisht Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 23: Toni Kroos of Germany scores his team's second goal to put his team in front 2-1 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Sweden at Fisht Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - England's defender John Stones scores a goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between England and Panama at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24, 2018. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fans hold banners with the image of Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah before the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 25, 2018. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Saudi Arabia's forward Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring his team's winning goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 25, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
SARANSK, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Mehdi Taremi of Iran reacts after missing a chance on goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Iran and Portugal at Mordovia Arena on June 25, 2018 in Saransk, Russia. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
SARANSK, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Karim Ansarifard of Iran celebrates with teammates Vahid Amiri and Majid Hosseini after scoring his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Iran and Portugal at Mordovia Arena on June 25, 2018 in Saransk, Russia. (Photo by Maja Hitij - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
SARANSK, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal speaks his mind to Morteza Pouraliganji of Iran during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Iran and Portugal at Mordovia Arena on June 25, 2018 in Saransk, Russia. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Noureddine Amrabat of Morocco battles with Andres Iniesta of Spain during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Spain and Morocco at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 25, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Iago Aspas of Spain back heels in past Monir El Kajoui of Morocco to score his sides second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Spain and Morocco at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 25, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Argentina's defender Marcos Rojo (lower) celebrates his goal with Argentina's forward Lionel Messi during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Argentina at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 26, 2018. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Uruguay battles, but doomed without Cavani

La Celeste started strong. They snapped into tackles, and built the occasional attack organically. There was combination play among midfielders and strikers. The end product never materialized, but the foundation was sound.

On the other side of the ball, Kylian Mbappe remained in special form. He glided past Uruguay midfielders just like he had Argentinean ones, exploding from stationary to full speed like very few others can. But after he would beat one or two Uruguayan players on the right, a third would step in to halt his progress.

Mbappe squandered the first real chance of the game. Olivier Giroud’s cushioned knock-down header found the teenager unmarked eight yards from goal. But he almost seemed to panic, and rather than taking the ball on his chest, he mistimed his jump and looped a flaccid header over the bar.

As the half wore on, the balance of the game tipped toward France. Luis Suarez became increasingly isolated. And Edinson Cavani’s calf injury, which kept him out of what might have been his final World Cup game, loomed increasingly large.

Cristhian Stuani, the Cavani replacement, ruined one potential 2-v-1 break with a terrible first-time pass. With Cavani absent, Uruguay’s link between midfield and attack became more and more flimsy as the game progressed.

As it did, Uruguay resorted to its rigidity and roughhousing. But one yellow card foul from Rodrigo Bentancur gave France the free kick that changed the game.

Uruguay’s recovery interrupted by goalkeeping howler

In the second half, France’s ambition waned. The onus was on Uruguay to find a spark. And gradually, it began to rise back into the game.

But around the hour mark, thoughts of a comeback were scuttled by Muslera. He flapped at a swerving Griezmann shot, inadvertently flipping it back into his own net:

It was effectively the end of Uruguay’s tournament. Down two and heading for elimination, the progressive attacking gave way to so-called “s—housery” – to arguments and scuffles and exasperation.

[Watch: Kylian Mbappe’s embarrassing flop vs. Uruguay]

Why France is a title threat

France was never dominant – not before its opener, nor afterward. It rarely has been in Russia. But anybody waiting for comprehensive, cohesive brilliance is missing the point.

France isn’t the second-best team remaining because it seizes games and never lets go; it doesn’t do that. It has been and still is a favorite because it has more difference-makers than anybody. It has more players who’ll win on the margins. In the group stage, it was Paul Pogba. In the Round of 16, it was Mbappe. Friday, it was Lloris, Varane and Griezmann.

One has to wonder if Friday would have been different with Cavani, one of Uruguay’s few difference-makers, fit. It very well might have been. In those 40 minutes of balance before the Varane header, Cavani very well could have made a splash.

But France won’t be wondering. Les Bleus are on to the semifinals to face either Brazil or Belgium.

36 PHOTOS
Scenes from the 2018 FIFA World Cup
See Gallery
Scenes from the 2018 FIFA World Cup
France's goalkeeper Hugo Lloris dives to stop the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Uruguay and France at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on July 6, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 03: England players (l-r Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Harry Kane, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Harry Maguire, Jamie Vardy, John Stones) celebrate after Eric Dier of England scores the winning penalty during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Colombia and England at Spartak Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
SARANSK, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: An Iran supporter shows his emotions following defeat during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Iran and Portugal at Mordovia Arena on June 25, 2018 in Saransk, Russia. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
England's goalkeeper Jordan Pickford stops Colombia's forward Carlos Bacca's shot during the penalty shootout at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Colombia and England at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on July 3, 2018. (Photo by Juan Mabromata / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 03: Harry Kane of England celebrates victory following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Colombia and England at Spartak Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 03: Eric Dier of England scores the winning penalty during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Colombia and England at Spartak Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 03: Head Coach of England Gareth Southgate celebrates after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Colombia and England at Spartak Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 03: Albin Ekdal of Sweden celebrates victory following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Sweden and Switzerland at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 03: Emil Forsberg of Sweden celebrates scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Sweden and Switzerland at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 03: Switzerland players look dejected following their sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Sweden and Switzerlandat Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 03: Emil Forsberg of Sweden celebrates scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Sweden and Switzerland at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA - JULY 02: A Japan fan looks dejected following their sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at Rostov Arena on July 2, 2018 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03: England fans react in horror to Colombia's equaliser at the end of extra time as they watch the FIFA 2018 World Cup Finals match between Colombia and England at Boxpark on July 3, 2018 in London, England. World Cup fever is building among England fans after reaching the Round of 16 in Russia. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 03: Viktor Claesson of Sweden tackles Ricardo Rodriguez of Switzerland during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Sweden and Switzerland at Saint Petersburg Stadium on July 3, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
SAMARA, RUSSIA - JULY 02: A Brazil fan celebrates following his sides victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at Samara Arena on July 2, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - France's forward Ousmane Dembele eyes the ball during a training session at the Glebovets stadium in Istra, some 70 km west of Moscow, on July 1, 2018, ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match against Uruguay. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
NIZHNY NOVGOROD, RUSSIA - JULY 01: Luka Modric of Croatia celebrates victory following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Croatia and Denmark at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on July 1, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photo by Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
SAMARA, RUSSIA - JULY 02: Neymar Jr of Brazil scores his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at Samara Arena on July 2, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
SAMARA, RUSSIA - JULY 02: Neymar of Brazil celebrates with teammate Paulinho after scoring his sides first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at Samara Arena on July 2, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
NIZHNY NOVGOROD, RUSSIA - JULY 01: Yussuf Yurary Poulsen of Denmark goes down as Ivan Rakitic of Croatia chases the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Croatia and Denmark at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on July 1, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 01: Aleksandr Golovin of Russia scores past David De Gea of Spain his team's third penalty in the penalty shoot out during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Spain and Russia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 1, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 01: A Russia fan celebrates following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Spain and Russia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 1, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 30: Edinson Cavani of Uruguay celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Uruguay and Portugal at Fisht Stadium on June 30, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 30: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal is shown a yellow card by referee Cesar Ramos during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Uruguay and Portugal at Fisht Stadium on June 30, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 30: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal helps Edinson Cavani of Uruguay off the pitch after he gets injured during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Uruguay and Portugal at Fisht Stadium on June 30, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - South Korea's players celebrate their second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between South Korea and Germany at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 27, 2018. (Photo by Luis Acosta / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
KALININGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 28: Thomas Vermaelen of Belgium wins a header during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 28, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 30: Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between France and Argentina at Kazan Arena on June 30, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 30: Adrien Silva of Portugal and Rodrigo Bentancur of Uruguay battle for the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Uruguay and Portugal at Fisht Stadium on June 30, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - JUNE 30: Edinson Cavani of Uruguay scores his team's first goal past Rui Patricio of Portugal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Uruguay and Portugal at Fisht Stadium on June 30, 2018 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 27: Marco Reus of Germany looks dejected following his sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
SARANSK, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Ricardo Quaresma of Portugal celebrates with teanmmate Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Iran and Portugal at Mordovia Arena on June 25, 2018 in Saransk, Russia. (Photo by Elsa - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 26: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
SAMARA, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Luis Suarez of Uruguay challenge for the ball with Sergey Ignashevich of Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Uruguay and Russia at Samara Arena on June 25, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
SAMARA, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Edinson Cavani of Uruguay scores his team's third goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group A match between Uruguay and Russia at Samara Arena on June 25, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
France's goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (R) dives to punch the ball clear during the Russia 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Uruguay and France at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on July 6, 2018. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

– – – – – – –

Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

More World Cup on Yahoo Sports:
Maradona apologizes for accusing FIFA officials of match-fixing
Watch: Everyone’s getting in on making fun of Neymar’s flopping
Players, matchups and tactics that will decide World Cup quarterfinals

Read Full Story