Last Saturday the World Cup saw two clashes between European and South American nations. Each continent prevailed once, meaning we now have a quarter-final between Uruguay and France to look forward to.
The bookmakers have France as clear favourites, but I’m not so sure. Karamba have Didier Deschamps’ side at even money to win in 90 minutes, with the draw at 11/5 and Uruguay priced at 7/2. Perhaps there’s a European bias at play here, but the two teams’ stats from the tournament so far have been very similar.
Both have scored seven goals, and taken 16 shots on target. Their total shot difference figures across their four games are just three apart, and the expected goals they have conceded are only different by 0.1. Perhaps most importantly, Uruguay have generated more shots than France, and of a higher average quality too, which is impressive considering Les Bleus’ figures include two penalties.
France’s non-event 0-0 draw with Denmark will blur the picture here, and Deschamps undoubtedly has an impressive squad to call upon, but the stats suggest France shouldn’t be as strong favourites as they are.
This is also true if you value more traditional comparisons like a head-to-head record. The countries have clashed eight times in the past, but France have only won once, and that was back in 1985. In the past decade they’ve played four matches, with three draws and a win for Uruguay against Les Bleus.
If history tells us anything from a gambling perspective, it’s also that we should not expect many goals when these countries clash. Their last five results (in order from 2002 onwards) have been 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0 and 1-0 to Uruguay. I can’t recall ever seeing a run of results like that in any head-to-head, and as much as years pass and squads and managers change, it seems to make little difference here.
While this could be the match where the goal drought ends, it would suit Uruguay to keep the game as tight as possible. France haven’t generally been great going forward either, with three of their seven goals in Russia coming in an 11 minute blitz against Argentina. They will find the Uruguayan defence marshalled by Godin and Gimenez a far tougher nut to crack than the defenses in previous outings.
However, while Uruguay were able to block four of Ronaldo’s six shots and prevent him from shooting in their box on Saturday, France carry far more attacking threat than any side they’ve faced so far. Even so, I would still expect a tight affair here, and BetBright’s odds of 4/9 for under 2.5 goals look enticing.
Prior to the Portugal clash, Uruguay had kept six clean sheets in a row. While France haven’t been as tight at the back, they still have three clean sheets in their past seven matches, so it seems reasonable to expect at least one side will draw a blank. The best price you’ll find on a ‘no’ in the both teams to score market is 4/6 with Bet Victor, so definitely bear them in mind when placing your bets.
Bet on Under 2.5 Goals at 4/9 with BetBright
It’s the seeming lack of goals which means ‘no goalscorer’ is fourth favourite with many top football bookmakers, at around the 5/1 mark. It’s also interesting that the joint-top scorers at this World Cup from either side are not the favourite either.
Antoine Griezmann leads the market here, and can be backed at 21/10 to score, or 9/2 to net first, with Paddy Power. He will be up against his club team-mates, so will he have learned enough in training with Atletico Madrid to exploit their weaknesses?
Griezmann may have scored six goals in his last five appearances in knock-out matches at major tournaments, but both of his goals in Russia have been penalties, so there may be better value elsewhere - especially in the Uruguayan squad
The real man in form for this match is Edinson Cavani, as he has scored their last three goals, and he finished the domestic season with four goals in three matches for PSG. Both he and Luis Suárez are priced at 13/2 with Unibet to score first, or 12/5 to bag a goal at any point throughout the match.
Either man is the obvious choice if you want to bet on a Uruguay player, but as Cavani has had more shots (both in total and on target), I think he’s the better choice. While it’s very unusual for me to suggest backing the outsider, it seems that Uruguay’s price to win this game is just too tempting in light of their excellent defence and front two.
Bet on Uruguay to Win to Nil at 5/1 with Ladbrokes.