It’s time for the final round of group matches. The last two games in each group are played at the time to avoid the potential of collusion – hang your heads the German and Austrian teams of 1982.
In Group A, it’s Russia and Uruguay who qualify and now meet to determine top spot. The Russians have been highly entertaining so far, scoring eight goals in dispatching Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but they now run into the highly oiled defensive machine that is Uruguay.
We don’t expect many goals in this game, particularly as Russia already lead the group on goal difference and thus have no real incentive to press forward.
We’ll take a punt that a set piece settles the game, and look for Uruguay’s star defender Diego Godin to get his head to a cross. One goal could well be enough, and thus the 40/1 available for him to be the first goal scorer is interesting, but we’ll take him as an anytime goal scorer just in case.
The second game features two teams leaving the tournament – Egypt versus Saudi Arabia. Only the parents of the players involved will be watching this match, and we’ll leave alone.
It’s Group B that we turn to for the evening games.
Potentially the most interesting game sees Portugal take on Iran. A victory would put either side through, but both teams are pretty negative by design and goals are likely to be hard to find.
We’ll take Cristiano Ronaldo to come out with something special to settle the match. He’s only even money to be man of the match, so we’ll take a punt on the 1-0 score in favour of Portugal.
The other game in this group sees Spain take on Morocco.
The Spaniards suffered a setback with the draw against Portugal in their first game and only scraped a 1-0 win over Iran in their next outing. They need a point to be sure of qualifying and will do so against a side that is already out of the tournament.
Striker Diego Costa has been in great form so far, scoring three times in his two games. That said, he is now two goals behind in the race for the tournament’s Golden Boot (arise Sir Harry of Tottenham!) and will want to press his case today. We’ll take the 6-1 SkyBet offers that he scores a brace.
Russia/Uruguay: Godin to score at anytime, 1 pt, at 16/1, widely available
Portugal/Iran: Portugal to win 1-0, 1 pt, at 9/2, bet365
Spain/Morocco: Costa to score a brace, 1 pt, at 6/1, SkyBet
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