The first quarterfinal of Russia 2018 is the only one to feature two sides who have won a World Cup before. Underappreciated Uruguay have been incredibly solid and efficient in their 2018 run, and Oscar Tabarez appears to have unearthed some genuine gems along the path to the country’s fifth quarterfinal appearance. Uruguay have still only conceded 1 goal from their 4 games, and this is not just a function of great goalkeeping by Fernando Muslera. The centre back partnership of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez appears to have helped unearth a quiet passing of the torch from the tournament’s best and most experienced defender to a younger, prodigious one. Lucas Torreira has earned the comparisons with France’s N’Golo Kante, thanks to some impressive combative displays in midfield. And lastly, Rodrigo Bentancur has established himself as a genuine creative outlet, and a wonderful foil behind the sublime finishing danger of Suarez and Cavani. One can’t help but feel they’ll need all of that to beat the French, even though Uruguay are unbeaten to France in World Cup competition and their record against European opposition in quarterfinals reads reasonably well with 2 wins and 1 defeat, with only the Germans besting them in 1966.

Uruguay vs France Quarterfinal Prediction and Preview

Didier Deschamps’ France were massively improved against Argentina, and for all the lingering concerns about their out of form centre backs, and the continued bizarre shoehorning of Blaise Matuidi on the left flank, their win was well deserved. The quality of the squad’s depth showed considerably against Argentina, both in the incredible impact of starlets like Kylian Mbappe, and the ability to leverage a bench of versatile reinforcements. France will fancy their chances in the quarterfinal too; only European opponents have bested them at the quarterfinals stage. They won both quarterfinals they contested against South American opposition with a penalty shoot victory over Brazil in 1986 and a solitary winner from Thierry Henry off a set piece in 2006.

Tactical Considerations:

Tabarez has received a fair amount of praise for Uruguay’s efficacy in tactical respects with good reason. Uruguay restricted Portugal to a mere 5 shots on target off their total of 20 shots, while Uruguay needed a total of just 5 shots to score their brace and manage the game to a favourable conclusion. They concede less than 10 shots per game, and their defensive work is the best that’s been seen at Russia thus far. Their backline is extremely well configured, especially defensively. The adjustment to a loose 41212 shape has served them extremely well with their midfield of Torreira, Nandez and Vecino extremely hard to break down, capable of flexing to shape alongside wide areas or centrally. In transition, Uruguay are ruthlessly efficient, with the intelligence and quality of Suarez and Cavani making up for any lack of speed (and that’s not to suggest they’re slow. The only question upfront is whether Cavani will pass fit for the match or youngster Maxi Gomez will needed to feature. They did a superb job of nullifying space and supply to Ronaldo, and frustrating Portugal with very few gaps in the box, so expect similar tactical approaches against Griezmann et al.

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Didier Deschamps’ 4231 was intact against Argentina and is largely anticipated to be applied again,  with the only major selection change that of suspended Blaise Matuidi from the left flank. Either way, whether the speed of Lemar or the passing nuance of Fekir is chosen, Deschamps’ more pressing concerns will be how to ensure his combative midfield improves on Portugal’s shortcomings and manages against the transition attacks of Uruguay more successfully. On the opposite end, France will need to be far more effective in creative respects against a far more stubborn and capable Uruguyan defence. France will also need to pay attention how best to improve on their defensive frailties, which Argentina managed to expose, albeit unsuccessfully in the end. 

Match Facts & Summary

  Uruguay France
World Cup Base Nizhny Novgorod Moscow
2014 World Cup Finish Round of 16 Quarterfinal
Total Head to Head Record Played 7, Uruguay 2 Wins, France 1 Win
Total Head to Head (World Cup Only) Played 3, Uruguay 1 Win
Record in World Cup Quarterfinals Played 4, Won 3 Played 6, Won 4
Penalty Shootout Record Won 1 of 1 Won 2 of 4
Odds – Result 3.45 0.98
Odds – To Win World Cup 16.00 (6th favourite) 3.70 (2nd favourite)
Best Odds – Golden Boot Cavani (30.00) Mbappe (12.50)
Best Odds – Golden Ball Suarez (24.00) Mbappe (4.00)

Our Prediction:

The key to Uruguay’s success here largely rests on knowing if their other star striker Cavani will be playing again in the World Cup. Assuming that question is answered positively, Uruguay’s preference and proficiency at transitional football with a solid, aggressive defence could find itself in good shape to beat the star-studded French. France have an incredible wave of stars at their disposal, and thus it would be easy to suggest they’ll simply overwhelm Uruguay with such talent, but Uruguay have already provide it will take more than simple reputations to create victories. Most of all, the South Americans don’t need a massive number of attempts for victory; their focus on the quality of chances and conversion thereof will be all they need to see themselves into the semifinal. This will be made substantially harder and more unlikely should Cavani miss the match, but should that come to pass, Uruguay have also proved one other thing – they won’t go down without a fight.

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* Please note – odds mentioned above are subject to change, so always check the latest published odds to be fully certain before betting.

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