Uruguay vs France preview, betting tips and prediction
Draw/France @ 17/5 with Coral
Saturday saw Uruguay face their biggest test of this World Cup yet when they took on European Championship holders Portugal. Boasting a collection of clean sheets before this bout, Uruguay had their hands full. It was the brilliance of Edinson Cavani, the PSG striker, that helped them to knock out Cristiano Ronaldo and company. Scoring both goals in the 2-1 win, Cavani’s hunger and desire were clear to anyone watching. He sacrificed his face for the first goal before executing a magnificent finish to secure the victory. Much of the focus on Uruguay has been on their solid defence but in Cavani, they have a matchwinner who could take them all the way.
France have at least one of those too. Kylian Mbappe, Cavani’s 19-year-old PSG teammate, made headlines earlier that day when he scored a brace of his own in the 4-3 thriller against Argentina. Terrifying defenders with his blistering pace, Mbappe had opponents running scared. They would have been even more frightened by the blind confidence of the teenager. This is the biggest stage of all and it didn’t daunt him one bit. His teammates also stepped up their game when Argentina went in front, orchestrating a ten-minute spell that produced three goals.
Uruguay look like they could be kicking on at the right time of the tournament. Luis Suarez has looked out of sorts but can still produce the odd piece of magic, like his cross for Cavani’s first goal. Luckily for Uruguay, they don’t have to depend on the Barcelona frontman because they have his PSG counterpart looking so sharp. As expected, they had less possession than Portugal but were happy to play without the ball for the most part. While they midfielders aren’t as technically gifted as those of other teams, they’re among the hardest-working around. Boca Juniors’ Nahitan Nandez caught the eye with his tireless and selfish display.
Argentina raised their game for the last 16 battle but Didier Deschamps will know that his side face a much tougher test against Uruguay. The defensive shoddiness that characterised Argentina throughout the tournament is not present in their South American neighbours. But France deserve credit for playing as a unit. They maintained a solid shape for much of the game with only Mbappe allowed to neglect his defensive responsibilities. They will hope that he can run Uruguay’s defence ragged, even if it’s only for a similar speedy sub to come on and finish the job late in the game or in extra-time.
Cavani limped off against Portugal but is expected to be fit for Friday.
Benjamin Mendy is a doubt after missing the Argentina match.