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AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Saturday’s World Cup games

France v Argentina
FIFA World Cup 2018 Round of 16
15:00 BBC One

The opening second round match is a potentially mouth-watering clash between two of the pre-tournament favourites. This is a fixture that some of us saw as a potential final, but one of these two will be following the Germans to the airport.

Neither side have particularly impressed so far, with Argentina coming dangerously close to going home in the group stage before a late winner from Marcus Rojo against Nigeria.

France have also failed to turn any heads, labouring to victory against an ordinary Australian side before edging past a Peru side that looked toothless in attack. The final game against Denmark was a non-event with Didier Deschamps fielding a much-changed side knowing qualification was secure.

Despite their difficulties, France still find themselves as strong favourites against an Argentina side that has made as many headlines off the pitch as they have on it recently. Rumour has it that Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano are running the side with the much-maligned Jorge Sampaoli a peripheral figure in the tactics room.

They again failed to impress against Nigeria, with the defence again looking never more than two touches away from a costly mistake.

There is a huge scope for improvement for both sides here however an attacking line-up featuring Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud could prove too much for Argentina’s shaky defence.

It’s short but I think there’s value in the 1/3 Argentina to not keep a clean sheet.

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Uruguay v Portugal
FIFA World Cup 2018 Round of 16
19:00 ITV

Uruguay’s clash with Portugal is one of two blockbuster clashes but about the only thing that one can be sure of is that tonight’s clash is sure to be tight.

Uruguay are the slightest of favourites after topping Group A and they are yet to concede a goal. They pride themselves upon their solidity at the back, and in the shape of Diego Godín and José Giménez, they have one of the tournament’s elite centre back pairings. Óscar Tabárez tried and tested 4-4-2 has proven to be incredibly solid for the last decade of his tenure and no side so far has been a major threat to them.

They topped what could be seen as a rather poor Group, however, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia their first two matches before they faced Russia, and Portugal will be a tougher test for them. Portugal are a side with a similar style of play, as those who saw them win Euro 2016 will remember, and they are not an easy side to break down either. Veteran goalkeeper Rui Patricio is one of the best stoppers out there and Pepe still has plenty of back class with 95 caps to his name, marshalling a defence with Jose Fonte and Cedric Soares, an integral part of the Euro 2016 triumph.

Their progress has closely resembled that of Euro 2016 – indeed they also had a 3-3 draw there – and of course, their game plan has revolved around one Cristiano Ronaldo. He showed what he could do with his hat-trick against Spain and sharp header to beat Morocco, although two of his hat-trick goals were fortunate and he has not had much support (or any) from his forwards so far.

Uruguay will be glad that Luis Suarez has recovered from a woeful start with Edison Cavani on the scoresheet, but against a Portugal side that can be counted upon to be far better defensively than Russia, they will need a lot more from a midfield that has disappointed in a similar vein to Portugal’s so far.

We have two sides with excellent defences, three key players between them and midfields that have disappointed during this tournament so far. There is of course never a better time than the present to click, but this could be extremely typical tournament football and the 0-0 draw (21/4 with starsports.bet) looks to be a big runner. If there is likely to be a difference maker, Cristiano Ronaldo looks likeliest and the 1-0 Portugal correct score could be a good position to have onside.

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