GROUP A concludes on Monday afternoon and Uruguay battle it out with hosts Russia for top-spot in Samara. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Uruguay v Russia | Monday 25th June 2018, 15:00 | ITV
Trying to unpick the final round of group games is quite a unique task.
Yes, we have a better idea of team’s ability, style, strengths, weaknesses, and so on, but we are also handed the conundrum of assessing incentive.
Much has been made of the potential possibility that Germany, France, Brazil and one of each of Group B and Group H’s duos (Portugal or Spain and Belgium or England) end up in one half of the draw.
When Uruguay and Russia meet on Monday for Group A’s closing, they’ll have next no idea of any knockout-stage permutations.
Both sides have secured their progression with little issue, and it’s surely sensible to keep momentum going. Anyway, any gains made in draw difficulty wouldn’t come without costs.
In the Last 16 two sides from Group B await. Predicting that is a guessing game with both Spain and Portugal sitting on four points with identical goal difference, while Iran lie on three.
The prices seem to have little between the three possible 90-minute outcomes reflecting the existence of any ulterior motives.
Many have been underwhelmed by Uruguay’s performances so far at this World Cup, but it is fair to say they’ve done exactly what was expected.
La Celeste approach games aiming to keep things tight and edge them. In qualification they averaged just 42% of possession which reinforces my belief they’ll be better suited to knockout games where they can play on the counter.
Uruguay abide by the concept of Garra Charrua, which directly translates as ‘The Claw’. Oscar Tabarez’s unit always ensure they are the hardest working and more intense side out on the pitch. Diego Godin’s on-field actions epitomise this.
It’s difficult to describe Russia’s performance so far at this tournament. Even when you account for the fact that World Cup hosts have historically exceeded expectation, it’s fair to say no one expected them to open up with 5-0 and 3-1 victories.
However, we’re looking to find an angle and I’m going to move beyond the obvious.
I’m convinced Saudi Arabia were spooked by the occasion in the tournaments opening game. Many of Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side have not seen competitive action in 2018 or ever played in front of the cameras, let alone lined up on the world stage in an 80,000-seater stadium. It was the day after the end of Ramadan too, which could have hampered any preparation.
Against Egypt on Tuesday, Russia eased to a 3-1 victory to secure a knockout place. In reality, they broke the deadlock in the 47th minute through a freak own-goal. After that, the Pharaohs heads dropped, and they opened up in an attempt to keep their tournament alive.
Russia lost the xG count approximately 2-1 as well as both the total shots and shots-in-box count.
It’s impossible to measure the mental aspects of the game, yet that is where Uruguay’s biggest strength lies.
As was the case throughout qualification, La Celeste have done enough in their opening two games, and we can back them to do the same on Monday at a generous 6/7 (188BET) in the Draw No Bet market. If we take the draw out of the equation and are forced to pick a winner, I don't think there's a 46% chance it's Russia.
Rotation is a worry, but if the managers do opt for changes, Uruguay still boast the deeper squad.
Uruguay v Russia – Uruguay +0 Asian Handicap (6/7 188Bet)