Uruguay v France: World Cup Betting Preview
The other Diego. Forlan may be the favourite to score for Uruguay but skipper Diego Lugano is the value.
France's build-up to this game has been chaotic, so there's no point backing them to make a winning start in Group A, writes James Eastham.
"Uruguay captain Diego Lugano scored four times during his side's World Cup qualifiers and is ideally-suited to exploiting France's weaknesses in the air at set-pieces. The price of 15.0 on him to score anytime is massive"
Venue: Cape Town:
UK Kick-Off Time: 19:30
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has already named his team for the match, opting for a 4-4-2 that contains few surprises. Opposite number Raymond Domenech has thrown France's plans into chaos over the past couple of weeks by experimenting with a 4-3-3 formation that he had never employed before. Using the new system, France lost 1-0 to China in their last friendly on Reunion last Friday.
France's last-minute tactical switch isn't the only reason to oppose them at a bewilderingly short price of [2.28]. Other factors include the fact that les Bleus haven't produced a single convincing performance in a competitive match since before Euro 2008, rumours that petty jealousies are dividing the camp, plus France's failure to win their opening match at three of the last four major tournaments (2002, 2006 and 2008).
No wonder Tabarez is quietly confident. "The aim is to beat France, even though we know it will be difficult and we respect them. I'm not calculating how many points we need to quality. I don't want those sorts of things to affect us. We're taking it one game at a time."
The South Americans are a better option at [3.8] than the draw at [3.3], as only eight of sides' opening 32 games (equating to a price of [5.0]) at the last two World Cups have ended all-square.
First Goalscorer/To Score
Thierry Henry ([3.6] to score anytime) is almost certain to start on the bench as a result of a poor season at Barcelona, so don't back him before team news comes through. France's best chance of scoring will come from set-pieces if Yoann Gourcuff starts. The Bordeaux playmaker's deliveries are superb, so William Gallas (who scored v Tunisia on May 30) is worth considering in the 'To Score' market at [11.0].
Uruguay possess the finest attacking duo in Group A in Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, who scored 12 of Uruguay's 30 goals during the qualifiers. I would consider backing the pair to score anytime at [3.25] and [4.1] respectively while also saving some money for captain Diego Lugano. The centre-back scored four times during the qualifiers and is ideally-suited to exploiting France's weaknesses in the air at set-pieces. He's a massive price at [15.0].
France Clean Sheet?
France have conceded in eight of their last nine games against all opponents other than the Faroe Islands. Gallas (still suffering from a troublesome calf injury) and Eric Abidal (better at left-back) form a mediocre centre-back partnership, leaving goalkeeper Hugo Lloris exposed time and time again. The opportunity to back 'No' in the France Clean Sheet? market at [1.6] is too good to ignore, especially as Uruguay found the net in 14 of their 20 qualifiers.
Both teams to Score?
For the reasons outlined above, this is an attractive market. Uruguay possess impressive firepower and France's defence is obviously their weak point going into their opening match. 'Yes' in the Both teams to score? market is [2.16], with 'No' [1.83]. Yes is my pick, and I'm further encouraged by the fact that both teams have scored in 14/32 (44% or around [2.25]) first outings at the last two tournaments.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals Market (by Matthew Walton)
Since the World Cup format changed in 1986, the 348 matches played have seen a ratio of 149:199 on the over/under 2.5 goals market. This means, statistically, any random match should be priced on a 43:57 percentage scale, which would make the average over price [2.32] and the under [1.75].
At [2.42] and [1.69] the market for this match is just about right.
Five previous matches between this pair have produced just six goals (including a 0-0 draw in Japan 2002), France in the last three World Cups have recorded six matches under and three matches over the 2.5 mark from their nine group fixtures whilst Uruguay's last three final appearances have made up at 5:4 in favour of the lower total.
Also, as the toughest group match for each nation they could very well play it safe here making under 2.5 goals [1.71] a sensible, as well as a statistical, trade.
Best Bet: James Eastham says: Lay France v Uruguay @ [2.28]
Other Recommended Bet: Back 'No' in France Clean Sheet? Market @ [1.6]