France play Uruguay in the first quarter-final of the 2018 World Cup, before favourites Brazil take on Belgium for a place in the last four.
Uruguay v France (1500, ITV)
With France available at evens general price, odds-on elsewhere, most bookies expect them to do the business in 90 minutes against Uruguay.
The South Americans only conceded for the first time in the last 16 victory over Portugal and they will face their toughest test yet as they come up against a pacey France attack.
Diego Godin faces his Atletico Madrid team-mate Antoine Griezmann and the Uruguay stopper could keep him quiet, but the one to watch is Kylian Mbappe. The teen star starred in France’s 4-3 victory over Argentina and showed his credentials on the world stage.
His blistering pace proved troublesome and earned them a penalty for THAT 70 yard run and he could be key again here.
A 2/1 price for Mbappe to find the back of the net anytime looks like good value, while you can get a 3/1 price for Mbappe to score and France to win.
Uruguay have been billed the Atletico of international football due to their well-organised, defensive set-up and they could prove tough for France to break them down here. While you can see winning 2-1 is likely, any more goals seems unlikely so France to win and under 3.5 total goals at 11/8 is eye-catching.
With the magnitude of the game, few players on either side will want to take risks and it will take a confident, talented character like Mbappe and Griezmann of France or Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani (if fit).
Opting for a low-scoring coupon is best advised for this match, or backing someone to score – Cavani and Griezmann both to find the back of the net has been Price Boosted to 9/1 with Sky Bet – but Mbappe anytime is best advised for this one.
- France have won just one of their eight previous meetings with Uruguay (D4 L3), losing the most recent encounter 0-1 in a friendly in June 2013 (Luis Suarez with the goal).
- In World Cup matches, Uruguay are unbeaten against France (W1 D2), beating them 2-1 in 1966 and drawing 0-0 in both 2002 and 2010.
- This will be Didier Deschamps’ 81st match in charge of France – his first was a 0-0 draw against Uruguay in a friendly in August 2012.
- France are unbeaten in their last nine World Cup matches against South American sides (W5 D4), keeping a clean sheet in seven of those games.
- France have won six of their last seven World Cup knockout stage matches (excluding the final), losing the other – with all of these games being settled in 90 minutes.
- France’s Kylian Mbappe has scored three goals so far this tournament – he’s the first teenager to score this many in a World Cup campaign since Pele netted six for Brazil in 1958.
- France forward Antoine Griezmann has scored six goals in his last five appearances in the knockout stages of major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships).
The match England wanted to avoid, and what a masterstroke resting players v Belgium has proved to be by Gareth Southgate, with the other side of the draw providing a simpler route to the final.
Both sides have arguably failed to reach their full potential in this tournament so far. While Brazil look to be improving ever so slightly as the competition goes on, Belgium just scraped through with the help of plan B Marouane Fellaini.
This could be an entertaining one, with goals fully expected. Brazil to win and over 2.5 total goals is worth backing at 12/5. While Brazil’s four games in Russia have thus far failed to total more than two goals, they have won 2-0 on three occasions and Belgium will be their first real test defensively.
Roberto Martinez’s men have scored 12 goals so far at the World Cup – equalling the country’s best – and they have the talent to take the game to Brazil, whether they can is another question.
It could be a cagey first-half affair, with Brazil doing what they have done so often in this tournament and seeing the game off in the second half, and draw/Brazil in a half-time/full-time coupon is available at a best price of 23/5.
Considering the magnitude of the game, this is really where the big names lead by example and carry their team forward. With that in mind, the Man of the Match market looks tempting for a small stake – Neymar is the 11/4 favourite but Philippe Coutinho has been the man for the Selecao so far and he is available to back for the award at 7s.
This should be an interesting match which should not disappoint considering these teams’ styles and that is why Brazil and over 2.5 is recommended most.
- This will be the fifth meeting between these sides. Belgium won the first back in a 1963 friendly, while Brazil have won the following three meetings.
- The only previous occasion these sides met in a World Cup was in the round of 16 in 2002, with Brazil winning 2-0 en route to winning the entire competition.
- Belgium have lost three of their last four World Cup meetings against South American opposition.
- Brazil are playing the quarter-final for the seventh successive World Cup tournament. They’ve only gone out twice at this stage in that run (vs France in 2006 and vs the Netherlands in 2010).
- Brazil have been knocked out of the World Cup by a European side in each of the last three tournaments (vs France in 2006, Netherlands in 2010 and Germany in 2014).
- Belgium have reached consecutive World Cup quarter-finals for the first time – they lost at this stage to Argentina in 2014.
- Belgium have scored 12 goals so far in the 2018 World Cup – at no single tournament in the competition have they scored more (also 12 in 1986).
- Brazil are unbeaten in their last 15 matches in all competitions (W11 D4), conceding just three goals in that run.
- Belgium are unbeaten in their last 23 matches (W18 D5), the longest current run of any team left in the 2018 World Cup.
- Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 19 goals in his 18 games for Belgium under Roberto Martinez, scoring 10 and assisting nine.
- Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku has scored with four of his five shots on target so far at the 2018 World Cup.
- Brazil forward Neymar has been involved in 20 goals in his last 19 matches for Brazil, scoring 11 and assisting nine.