We take a look at the best value in France v Argentina and Uruguay v Portugal as the round of 16 gets underway in Russia.
Saturday's recommended World Cup bets
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, our transparent tipping record
- France 2-0 Argentina
- Uruguay 2-1 Portugal
France v Argentina (1500 BST, BBC One)
The round of 16 gets under way with a mouth-watering tie in Kazan as France take on Argentina.
The European outfit qualified from Group C with ease, whilst Argentina were on the verge of elimination before Marcos Rojo struck late to put them through in second.
France at 6/4 appears good value, based on what we've seen from these two teams so far.
Argentina have looked far from convincing. They were held on their opening day by Iceland before losing 3-0 to Croatia. They may have beaten Nigeria, but would have felt a bit lucky to grab all three points.
Argentina's performances are reflected in their price to lift the World Cup. The 2014 finalists are 14/1 for glory, an unusually high price for them at this point in the competition.
Nothing is certain though, and Lionel Messi will always prove to be tough to defend against as one of the greatest players to have ever stepped foot onto a pitch.
However, what has shown in the last three games is that there is only so much he can do himself, and the lacklustre performances from some of his teammates has led to them almost falling at the first hurdle.
On the goal scoring front, Antoine Griezmann is available at 23/10 to strike anytime on Saturday which is appealing. The Atletico forward has had a quiet tournament so far, but he is a top-class talent and is more than capable of being amongst the goals for France.
A France victory seems the most likely option to me based on earlier showings, and that would set up a quarter-final meeting with the winner of Saturday's later game.
Score prediction: France 2-0 Argentina (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)
- France and Argentina will be facing each other for the 12th time. The South Americans hold the upper hand with six wins to two (D3), keeping a clean sheet in eight of their previous 11 encounters with the French.
- Argentina have won their two World Cup encounters with France, back in 1930 (1-0) and 1978 (2-1). On both occasions, they reached the final, losing it in 1930 and winning in 1978.
- The last South American team to beat France at the World Cup were Argentina in 1978. Since then, France are unbeaten in eight World Cup fixtures against CONMEBOL opposition (W4 D4).
- Argentina have gone past the first round for the 12th time in their last 13 World Cup appearances, the only exception coming in 2002. Their last four knockout games in the tournament have produced only three goals (2 goals for, 1 against).
- Penalty shoot-outs excluded, France have lost only one of their last 11 games in the knockout stages of the World Cup (W8 D2), that came against eventual winners Germany in July 2014 (0-1).
- Since the introduction of the round of 16 in 1986, France have always made it past that stage whenever they’ve reached it (1986, 1998, 2006, 2014).
- France only conceded five shots on target in their three group games at World Cup 2018. The only goal they let in came from the penalty spot (Mile Jedinak for Australia).
- Argentine forward Lionel Messi has never scored in the knockout stages of the World Cup: 666 minutes, 0 goals. He is the last Argentinean player to score against France, back in February 2009 in a friendly (2-0).
- Lionel Messi is the third Argentinian player to have scored in three different World Cup tournaments, alongside Diego Maradona (1982, 1986, 1994) and Gabriel Batistuta (1994, 1998, 2002).
- France’s Olivier Giroud has failed to score in his last 357 minutes at World Cup/Euro, his longest drought at major tournaments, with his last goal dating back to the Euro 2016 quarter-final against Iceland. He’s yet to register a shot on target at this year’s World Cup, having spent 200 minutes on the pitch.
- Didier Deschamps will be taking charge of his 80th game as France manager, a new record as he overtakes Raymond Domenech
Uruguay v Portugal (1900 BST, ITV)
Saturday's late game sees Group A winners Uruguay meet Group B runners-up Portugal in Sochi.
The two sides can barely be separated in the betting with around 2/1 available on either to secure victory in 90 minutes, with the draw also about at the same price.
Whilst Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez rightly dominate the goalscorer market, I think there may be value in backing one of the Uruguayan centre-backs to strike anytime in this one.
Four of Uruguay's five goals at this World Cup have come as a result of corners, with the other being a direct free-kick, which highlights their strength at set-pieces and they will be looking for those to pay off for them once again here.
Jose Gimenez missed their win over Russia with an ankle injury but he returned to training in midweek and should be available for boss Oscar Tabarez if he needs him.
The Atletico centre-back scored the winner with a header against Egypt, showing how he can be a danger in the air.
Gimenez can be found at a best price of 19/1 anytime against Portugal, with defensive partner Diego Godin, who got an assist against Russia, available at 18/1.
I'd be tempted to back both centre-backs at the price, which does look too big given Uruguay's reliance on set-pieces.
When it comes to picking a winner, I'd be looking towards Uruguay for victory here and a best price of 47/25 is available on them doing so.
Score prediction: Uruguay 2-1 Portugal (Sky Bet odds: 14/1)
- This will be the third encounter between Uruguay and Portugal and their first at the World Cup. They haven’t faced each other since July 1972 when they drew 1-1 at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium. Portugal are so far unbeaten in their two previous meetings (W1 D1).
- Penalty shoot-outs excluded, Portugal have lost only one of their last 17 games at major tournaments (W8 D8), a 4-0 defeat against Germany at the 2014 World Cup. However, they have lost their last three games in the World Cup knockout stages (1 goal scored, 5 conceded).
- Since the format of the World Cup changed in 1986 to include a round of 16, Uruguay have been eliminated on three of the four occasions they’ve reached that stage, losing in 1986, 1990 and 2014, but progressing in 2010 against South Korea.
- Uruguay will be looking to win their opening four games at a World Cup tournament for only the second time after 1930 when they won the first ever World Cup.
- Uruguay are yet to concede a single goal at the 2018 World Cup, facing just six shots on target in three games – the last South American team not to concede in their first four matches of a World Cup tournament were Brazil in 1986.
- All five of Uruguay’s goals at the 2018 World Cup have been scored from set-pieces (3 from corners, 1 from direct free-kick and 1 from indirect free-kick). Meanwhile, three of Portugal’s last four goals have come from outside the box.
- Luis Suarez has scored seven World Cup goals for Uruguay, second only to Oscar Miguez (8) – Suarez scored a brace against South Korea in his only previous World Cup appearance in the round of 16 back in 2010.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has so far failed to score a single goal for Portugal in the knockout stages of the World Cup: 424 minutes, 0 goals. However, he did score a hat-trick against Spain in his previous game at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium.
- If he plays, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (37) will equal Bastian Schweinsteiger (38) as the player with the most appearances at World Cups + European Championships.
- This is Fernando Santos’ fourth major tournament in a row as manager. He’s reached the knockout stages on each previous occasion: Euro 2012 quarter-finals & World Cup 2014 round of 16 with Greece; Euro 2016 winners and at the very least World Cup 2018 round of 16 with Portugal.
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Odds correct as of 1020 BST on 29/06/18
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