Simon Mail previews the first World Cup quarter-final and is backing France to end Uruguay's run in the competition...
"Kylian Mbappe was the architect of France's 4-3 victory over Argentina as the brilliant 19-year-old became the first teenager to score two goals in a World Cup game since Pele in 1958."
Uruguay v France
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Uruguay sweating on Cavani's fitness
Uruguay are one of just two sides remaining in the World Cup to have won all four games and France stand in their way of a place in the semi-finals. Oscar Tabarez's pragmatic side came through their group with ease after beating Egypt, Saudi Arabia and hosts Russia. It got significantly tougher in the last 16 but two goals from Edinson Cavani fired them to a 2-1 win over European champions Portugal.
It was a clinical performance by Uruguay, having just 33% possession and five shots, as they frustrated their opponents. Their exceptional defence, led by Diego Godin, has conceded just once in the tournament while a potent attack has ruthlessly punished teams. But Cavani, who has three goals in the tournament, is a major doubt after picking up a calf injury against Portugal and this could be a critical blow to their chances.
France show their class in Argentina win
France have undoubtedly got the individual talent to go the distance in Russia but questions have been asked about whether their team can find the cohesion and fluency to beat the best teams. Didier Deschamps' side coasted through the group stage with unconvincing wins over Peru and Australia before a dire goalless draw against Denmark.
But their irresistible combination of pace and flair was used to devastating effect in their thrilling 4-3 win over Argentina in the second round. Trailing 2-1 in the second half, France turned the tie around with three goals in the space of 11 minutes. Kylian Mbappe was the architect of this victory as the brilliant 19-year-old became the first teenager to score two goals in a World Cup game since Pele in 1958.
Worthy favourites for quarter-final
France came to the party with their superb performance in the last round and if they can reproduce this their odds of [2.04] will look more than fair. Of course, it will be tougher against a team renowned for their defensive qualities so France will not have the space they were given against a ridiculously open Argentina. That said, they deserve to be favourites and are the most likely winners of this quarter-final.
Uruguay are available at [4.8] which on the face of it looks a big price. The South Americans have won every game so far but this is a significant step up in class and the likely absence of Cavani will severely weaken their attack. Uruguay will need to be at their best to progress from this tie but it could be this is one step too far for them against a pacy French side full of attacking threats.
The draw is on offer at [3.25] and is often likely to give you a run for your money in the knockout stage. Uruguay are likely to set up defensively with their first priority to frustrate France. Patience could be required by Deschamps' team but their attacking quality should tell eventually with the favourites fancied to win.
It certainly will not be easy for France to break down the Uruguay defence although the speed and skill of Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann should be able to find space as the match progresses. France have won all three games in Russia by one goal and it is difficult to see them winning by a big margin against such a tight defensive unit. With odds of 5/2 available on another narrow France win, this appeals as a value bet on the favourites.
Mbappe was unstoppable against Argentina with the teenage forward also winning a penalty for France, after surging into the area, before his two second-half goals. With three goals in the competition, Mbappe is 11/5 to score again although a better bet could be to back him to win the man-of-the-match at 4/1. Mbappe won the award against Argentina and he looks an obvious contender again so the bigger odds on this stand out. Using Betfair's new Same Game Multi option, you can back Mbappe to score and France to win at tempting odds of [4.37].
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
Key Opta Stats for Uruguay v France
France have won just one of their eight previous meetings with Uruguay (D4 L3), losing the most recent encounter 0-1 in a friendly in June 2013 (Luis Suarez with the goal). Uruguay are [4.8] to win.
In World Cup matches, Uruguay are unbeaten against France (W1 D2), beating them 2-1 in 1966 and drawing 0-0 in both 2002 and 2010. The draw is [3.2].
This will be Didier Deschamps’ 81st match in charge of France – his first was a 0-0 draw against Uruguay in a friendly in August 2012. Another 0-0 draw is [7.6].
France are unbeaten in their last nine World Cup matches against South American sides (W5 D4), keeping a clean sheet in seven of those games. They are [2.88] to win to nil.
Uruguay have won their last four World Cup matches, last winning five in a row between 1950 and 1954. They are [2.84] to reach the semi-finals.
France have progressed on four of the last five occasions they’ve reached the quarter-final stage, with the only exception being a 0-1 defeat against Germany in 2014. The French are [1.52] to progress.
France have won six of their last seven World Cup knockout stage matches (excluding the final), losing the other - with all of these games being settled in 90 minutes. They are [2.06] to win.
France’s Kylian Mbappe has scored three goals so far this tournament – he’s the first teenager to score this many in a World Cup campaign since Pele netted six for Brazil in 1958. Mbappe is [3.5] to find the net.
France forward Antoine Griezmann has scored six goals in his last five appearances in the knockout stages of major tournaments (World Cup and European Championships). Griezmann is [3.2] to score.
Each of Uruguay’s last three goals in the 2018 World Cup have been scored by Edinson Cavani. The PSG striker is [3.1] to add to his tally.
World Cup P/L