THE Last 16 of the 2018 World Cup gets underway on Saturday with Uruguay and Portugal battling it out in Sochi. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Uruguay v Portugal| Saturday 30th June 2018, 19:00 | ITV
After a frenetic group stage, we’re onto the Last 16. Such is the quick turnover period of a World Cup, both Uruguay and Portugal will battle it out in Sochi after four days rest.
There is also no significant difference in the distance to travel from their respective Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow training camps.
Uruguay did what was expected of them in Group A, winning all three-games without reply. Each of those victories were workman like rather than routes, but scraps are where Uruguay seemingly perk up.
They are organised and aim to keep things tight. Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez add that cutting edge in the final-third.
Whilst we must be wary of getting too hung up on data from what was a less than competitive Group A, as of writing this only Belgium and Brazil have conceded fewer shots in the box than Uruguay, and they’ve both played a game less. This is testament to Oscar Tabarez’s teams style.
Moreover, their xG against was below one in each of their three group matches, and they won both the shots-in-the-box and shots-on-target count in all of those.
La Celeste did what they needed to. An average of 42% possession in qualification indicates we are yet to see their best.
Portugal, on the other hand, contributed to a thriller with Spain in their opener, but have looked underwhelming since.
If we break down their five goals scored at this tournament, we’re looking at a penalty, free-kick, header from a corner, David De Gea howler, and Ricardo Quaresma wonder strike. Fernando Santos’ charges have not been carving teams open in general play.
They ran out undeserved winners against Morocco and were matched stride-for-stride by Iran in their Group B decider.
However, Portugal’s 2016 European Championship success along with the stardust of Cristiano Ronaldo means we must respect them in a one-off knockout tie.
Goals are not expected
As you’d imagine World Cup knockout ties tend to be cagey, narrowly fought affairs. Since 2002, just 15 of 60 World Cup knockout games have been settled by more than the single goal. 75% were either drawn or won by one goal.
It’s fair to suggest goals are unlikely here. Both sides tend to adopt a defence first approach. They also both set up in a variation of a 4-4-2 so it’s very possible they cancel each other out for large parts of this game.
Under 1.5 goals is tempting at 151/100 (Marathon), but instead Under 2 Asian Goals gets the nod at 4/5 (Bet Victor). This sees our stake returned if exactly two goals are scored, and a winner paid if the game sees fewer.
Uruguay v Portugal – Under 2 Asian Goals (4/5 Bet Victor)