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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 17 July 2018

Uruguay 'not the same' without Cavani, insists France midfielder Matuidi

PSG striker is nursing a calf injury and his participation in the World Cup quarter-final is in doubt

Edinson Cavani is helped off the pitch by Cristiano Ronaldo during Uruguay's World Cup win over Portugal. Mohamed Messara / EPA
Edinson Cavani is helped off the pitch by Cristiano Ronaldo during Uruguay's World Cup win over Portugal. Mohamed Messara / EPA

Edinson Cavani's availability for Uruguay could make the difference to their chances against France, the striker's former teammate and World Cup quarter-final opponent Blaise Matuidi has said.

Cavani, 31, has been central to Uruguay's success in Russia so far, scoring three goals including a double in the 2-1 win over Portugal in the first knockout round.

However, the Paris Saint-Germain striker was substituted during the second half after sustaining a calf injury, and the Uruguay Football Association confirmed on Monday that there was a "possibility", but "no probability" that Cavani would be fit to face France.

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While Cavani battles to be fit, Matuidi misses out for France at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Friday because of suspension. The two used to be teammates at PSG before the 31-year-old midfielder moved to Juventus last year.

“I worked with Edinson for a very long time. We have not spoken recently, but I know him well enough to tell you that he is a very generous man, who does not give up on anything, and I know that he will do everything, right up until the last moment to be on the pitch,” Matuidi told a news conference on Wednesday.

“I do not know if they are bluffing [about the injury]. That’s for the Uruguayans to worry about. But there are injuries that can be quickly healed and others for which there is no miracle cure.”

If Cavani does not recover, Matuidi believes Uruguay will be hampered.

“Uruguay without Cavani is not the same thing. You don’t easily replace one of the best attackers in the world. It would be a handicap for them," he said.

“But their way of playing and defending, won’t change too much I don’t reckon.”

Matuidi, whose caution in the last-16 win over Argentina ensured an automatic one-game suspension, reckons Uruguay will prove tough opponents.

“Not necessarily a nightmare, but a difficult match. They let in very few goals. But we are able to trouble any team, because we really have quality in attack. It's up to us to put ourselves in a position to bother them,” he said.

Mbappe to Real Madrid 'completely false'

France striker Kylian Mbappe. David Vincent / AP Photo
France striker Kylian Mbappe. David Vincent / AP Photo

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have denied reports the Spanish club have submitted a bid for Matuidi's international colleague Kylian Mbappe, who plays alongside Cavani for PSG.

Mbappe has been one of the standout stars of the World Cup, his two goals against Argentina leading France into the quarter-finals. The 19-year-old striker moved to PSG last summer on loan ahead of a €180 million (Dh770m) permanent move this summer.

Speculation surfaced on Wednesday claiming Madrid had made a €272m offer to sign Mbappe, but the European champions have denied the reports.

"Given the information published ... regarding an alleged agreement between Real Madrid and PSG for the player Kylian Mbappe, Real Madrid would like to state that it is completely false," the club said in a statement on their website.

"Real Madrid has not made any offer to PSG or the player and condemns the spreading of this type of information."

It is the second time this week Madrid have spoken out against transfer speculation having denied reports of a deal to take Brazilian striker Neymar to the Bernabeu.