Uruguay vs France: Can Kylian Mbappe unlock the stubborn La Celeste defence?by Jack Kitson / 06 July 2018, 11:57Tweet
The first of the four 2018 World Cup quarter-finals promises to be a cracking clash between the unbeaten duo of Oscar Tabarez’s Uruguay and Didier Deschamps’ France, who lock horns at the Nizhny Novgorod on Friday
The two former World champions meet for the first time in five years as they each attempt to set up a semi-final duel with either Brazil or Belgium.
For Uruguay it's only their second World Cup quarter-final since 1970, although should they progress this weekend they will reach their second semi-final in eight years under manager Tabarez, who at 71 is the oldest boss at the tournament.
A stubborn, resolute and well-organised Uruguay have only conceded one goal in four games so far, while France’s swashbuckling and rip-roaring attack finally clicked into gear in their last outing.
Kylian Mbappe was the star of the show in the seven goal thriller against Argentina, during which he bagged a four-minute brace in the 4-3 win. The 19-year-old, who is being linked with a summer switch Real Madrid, is a 5/1 shot to open the scoring in Nizhny, 14/1 to bag two or more goals, and 3/1 to score in a France win in 90 minutes.
But France, the 11/10 favourites in normal time, will have to be patient as they will not be allowed the same oceans of freedom as was provided by Argentina.
There’s absolutely no chance that Uruguay, 18/5 with Betfair, will be as tactically naive or defensively vulnerable as their South American rivals, especially with the world class duo of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez marshalling the backline.
Uruguay's manager Oscar Tabarez has Guillain-Barre syndrome and is the oldest manager at the #WorldCup at 71.— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) June 30, 2018
Yet he has got them to the semi's in 2010, quarters this year and still shouts from the sideline on a crutch
That's what you call a legend #URUPOR pic.twitter.com/pmRHzOeaW8
The cohesive system is also working wonders for their main men in attack, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani who combined to great effect in the 2-1 win over Portugal, with the duo priced at 13/5 and 11/4 respectively to score anytime, although the latter is a fitness doubt.
Uruguay are currently enjoying a seven game winning run, while they’ve only been beaten once in the last year. Plus, they’ve won five of their previous six World Cup quarter-finals, and have only lost one of their eight clashes with France, winning three including a 2-1 victory at the 1966 World Cup, while they played out a goalless draw eight years ago in South Africa.
France are unbeaten in their last nine matches against South American sides at the World Cup, and we are expecting a physical, ultra-competitive, tactical battle with a 1-1 draw available at 11/2 (Bet 365), however we’re backing France will eventually topple their opponents in extra-time (8/1).
Prediction: Uruguay 1-1 France (France to win in extra-time)