World Cup Round-Up: 30/06/18

World Cup Round-Up: 30/06/18

France v Argentina – 15:00

It’s the knockout stages of the World Cup this weekend, and we’ve got two absolutely cracking games to feast on, starting with France versus Argentina at 3 o’clock. Both of these sides are yet to reach their full potential at this summers tournament, with France meandering through the group stages with no real urgency. Didier Deschamps’ men evaded Australia by a narrow one goal margin in their opening game a fortnight ago, beating the Socceroos 2-1 thanks to a late deflected goal from Paul Pogba. An unconvincing performance against Peru was to follow for Les Blues as they edged past the South Americans 1-0 thanks to a first half goal from Kylian Mbappe. With so much attacking talent in their squad, France are still among the favourites to win the World Cup this year, however performances need to start improving if they’re to progress past Argentina and make it into the quarter finals here.

There doesn’t seem to be much chemistry in this French squad at the moment, unlike years gone by they don’t seem to be playing for each other in Russia and it’s showed on the pitch. They were extremely lucky to edge past both Australia and Peru, but couldn’t penetrate a Denmark side who themselves haven’t offered much quality, so it’s difficult to see them going the distance this year. Olivier Giroud has started the previous two matches for France, but it’s predicted that the Chelsea man might be dropped for this game after having little impact in the games against Denmark and Peru. Antione Griezmann is likely to move back into that central striker role, while either Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele or Lyon’s Nabil Fekir could come in as Giroud’s replacement. Griezmann is Frances designated penalty taker, and with a defence as careless as Argentina’s we think backing the Atletico man to get on the scoresheet could be a good option.

Argentina were extremely lucky to qualify for the knockout stages after two abysmal performances in their opening group games. A lacklustre 1-1 draw with Iceland was followed by a complete capitulation against Croatia, where the South American outfit were completely undone by Zlatko Dalić’s men, losing 3-0 at the Nizhny Novgorod. Manager Jorge Sampaoli has completely lost the dressing room, none of the players are playing for him anymore and it’s become abundantly clear on the field. On Tuesday night it was rumoured that the players picked the team, with Lionel Messi delivering the half-time team talk; although this worked and Argentina picked up their first win of the tournament against Nigeria, it’s still not what should be going on at a major international tournament.

One thing that Argentina do have is Lionel Messi. The world’s best player needs no introducing and can completely flip a game on its head within the blink of an eye, so if he turns up then this game will be Argentina’s to lose. There’s no arguing that Messi has been underwhelming so far, however after his beautifully taken goal against Nigeria on Tuesday, he’ll enter this match full of confidence which makes him such a danger. Just like Griezmann is for France, Lionel Messi is Argentina’s designated penalty taker and although he missed one against Iceland, it’s unlikely he’d make the same mistake twice. Backing both Griezmann and Messi to score anytime is priced at 5/1 with SkyBet and we reckon that could be a decent bet for this one.

Recommended Bets:

France to win (29/20 with Bet365) – BET HERE

Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi both to score (5/1 with SkyBet) – BET HERE

Uruguay v Portugal – 19:00

Saturday’s second game sees Group A winners Uruguay take on Group B runners-up Portugal. Only three teams at this years World Cup managed to win all three of their group games, and Uruguay were one of them. Aside from their 3-0 win over Russia last week, Uruguay’s two other games against Saudi Arabia and Egypt were far from convincing; the South American’s only just edged past both of those sides with slender 1-0 wins, which raised questions about Uruguay’s attacking attributes. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will be the obvious threats for Óscar Tabárez’s side here, between them they have three goals to their name and both got on the scoresheet against Russia, so they’ll take some good momentum into this clash with Portugal.

Uruguay are the only team that haven’t conceded a single goal in Russia, they kept three clean sheets in three games throughout the group stages and look so solid at the back every time they take to the field. With players like Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin holding their back line together, it’s no wonder they’ve been so difficult to break down thus far. This game against Portugal will be extremely different to the ones that have gone before them however, as Cristiano Ronaldo spearheads Portugal’s attack. Godin will be the man tasked with keeping the Real Madrid front man quiet, but that’s not going to be an easy challenge considering the form Ronaldo takes into this fixture. If he can do this though, Uruguay will have a really strong chance of qualifying as Portugal offer little else in that final third.

Euro 2016 winners Portugal head into this game as slight underdogs but will confident in their chances of qualification due to having Cristiano Ronaldo up front. The Real Madrid man is the ultimate big game player and already has four goals to his name, so he’ll be looking to add to that impressive tally here in his quest for the Golden Boot. Ronaldo was quiet in Portugal’s last game against Iran and past up the perfect opportunity to move level on goals with England’s Harry Kane in the goalscoring charts by missing a second half penalty, so he’ll be eager to redeem himself here against Uruguay. Portugal were in essence the ‘best of a bad bunch’ throughout the group stages, making it through to the Round of 16 despite only winning one match. Fernando Santos’ men were lucky that both Iran and Morocco fell so short of the mark in Group B, but know that any more lacklustre performances will cost them dearly in the knockout stages.

With Uruguay’s defensive record considered we can envisage a low scoring game here. Out of the six games both of these sides have played, only two of them ended with an over 2.5 goal scoreline so the form book would suggest backing under’s in this match. The odds for this are very short however, so it might be worth opting for Portugal to win & under 2.5 goals here – that’s priced at 18/5 with Ladbrokes. Another good bet could be Ronaldo to open the scoring, it seems obvious but you just can’t look past the 33-year-old to do the business when it matters most – that’s priced at 3/1 with Betfred.

Recommended Bets:

Cristiano Ronaldo to score first (3/1 with Betfred) – BET HERE

Portugal to win & under 2.5 goals (18/5 with Ladbrokes) – BET HERE