A World Cup semi-final spot is up for grabs on Friday afternoon when Uruguay and France meet in Nizhny Novgorod. Ben Levene (@benlevene96) shares his best bets
Uruguay v France | Friday 6th July 2018, 15:00 | ITV
As the World Cup hots up, Uruguay and France meet in Nizhny Novgorod for the first of four quarter-finals. The pair both secured single-goal wins in the last 16
Respect La Celeste
In terms of price, France are around evens here. They were a bigger 6/4 to beat a disjointed Argentina side, which is surprising.
Yes, France were impressive, but Uruguay are a fair bit better than Argentina across multiple measures.
La Celeste finished above Argentina in qualification and have performed significantly better than them so far this World Cup. Oscar Tabarez’s side have been the best team defensively this tournament.
Their xG against is the lowest of any of the 32 nations to compete, while the shot-quality they’ve allowed is also the lowest. They’ve also conceded fewer shots-in-the-box than any other side.
Since 1998 just three of 20 World Cup quarter-finals have been won by more than the single goal. These games are historically tight.
France are the most likely winners, but the qualification prices are disrespectful to Uruguay. They certainly aren’t rollovers and can make a fist of things. 9/5 suggests they have just a 36% chance of progressing.
France can be nullified
France were at their best in the last round when given space. Mbappe was able to drive at players, while Pogba, Matuidi and Griezman were given license to control the game.
Uruguay will sit deep, and that could nullify some of France’s threat. Tabarez opted for a back-three against Portugal, with Martin Cacares tucking in alongside Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. That’ll likely be the case again this Friday.
Edinson Cavani was Uruguay’s match-winner against Portugal but is a doubt after coming off early with a hamstring injury. Images from Uruguay training and recent comments indicate the frontman could miss out, and that would be a blow.
Christhian Stuani will likely deputise and the target-man does have commendable traits of his own. He’s comfortable playing with his back-to-goal and Iago Aspas was the only non Barca or Real player to outscore the Girona striker last campaign.
Regardless, what happens behind Uruguay’s front-two is independent of Cavani’s fitness. They will be organised, solid, and are capable of frustrating a France side who scored just three-goals in three group games when not allowed time and space.
At 9/5 a play on Uruguay to sneak through is justified.
Fine margins expected
Since 1998, just three of 20 World Cup quarter-final ties have been won by two or more goals inside 90. That’s just 15%. Given Uruguay’s likely approach and the fact only Brazil have allowed fewer shots than France of the last eight teams, the single goal winning margin either way at 5/4 (Betway) has a touch of value about it.