While all eyes are always drawn to the star players that grace the field at this spectacle, one of the biggest challenges facing teams in the World Cup is the use of the entire squad during the gruelling campaign.
The two teams that will play in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium on 15 July would have played a total of six matches and 540 minutes of football excluding any possible extra time since the first fixture on 14 June.
Should any team in Group H make the final, it would be their seventh game in 26 days. This works out to be a little less than a match every four days which considering that most of these players have come straight into the set up after a long club campaign means that they will be carrying a lot of fatigue and potentially small niggles.
Therefore, it is not as simple as having a few star players if there is no squad depth. A player like Cristiano Ronaldo will be expected to play every minute of the Portugal campaign which started on the 15 June. This after Portugal’s clash against Spain came less than three weeks since the Champions League final where he played the full 90 minutes as Real Madrid’s picked up their third successive title.
While someone like Ronaldo, given his supreme conditioning, can probably handle the workload, it is not the case for every player and so managers have a tricky task of conserving their squad’s energy for the crucial matches while not slipping up on the way.
Didier Deschamps seems to be handling his squad brilliantly. France is blessed with one of the deepest squads at the World Cup in terms of quality and Deschamps has used this to his advantage by rotating players constantly to protect his stars.
In their clash against Peru, Deschamps was quick to withdraw the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann once France had scored a goal and looked to be in control of the match.
Having already qualified for the next round, France named Pogba, Mbappe, Hugo Lloris, Blaise Matuidi as well as Samuel Umtiti on the bench while Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele were both withdrawn in the second half.
As a result, Deschamps will face Argentina on Saturday with all his star players well rested and ready while most of the squad has had some time on the pitch and are ready and waiting in the folds should they be required. While they have not blown away any teams yet, they have managed to get the job done with minimal casualties and look very comfortable.
Argentina on the other hand will go into the match following a gruelling group stages which has seen Lionel Messi play the full 90 minutes in every game in a team where no established formation or combinations seem to be in place.
Just based on this, France will head into the game as favourites and are a clear example of just how important it is to use all 23 players across the tournament to cope with the workload.
This often where the smaller nations come short as their quality throughout the squad sometimes lets them down. The reason the powerhouse nations usually dominate proceedings is as much because of their stars as it is about the quality of players that back them up.
Four years ago, Mario Götze was the hero of Germany as they lifted the title despite only coming on the 88th minute. Unfortunately, this is not an exact science and is not always the case but the fact that remains that people are often quick to forget the toll this tournament takes on the players and as such, the management of squads has the potential to be the biggest key to their success.