Uruguay will continue their quest to enter the second round of the tournament when they take on a Saudi Arabian outfit who are not expected to cause too many headaches for their Group A opponents. As the second match for each team, this game is arguably the most crucial for both nations, and they will be aware that a loss could prove fatal to their overall campaign.
While Saudi Arabia still have Egypt to come up against following this fixture, Uruguay will face hosts Russia. As host nations tend to win more games than not at the World Cup (they average three wins per tournament), the South Americans won’t want to leave anything to chance and allow the Saudis to get one over them here. Uruguay will start as favourites, and they will need to ensure they manage the expectation that this is a game they should comfortably win.
In terms of FIFA rankings, this game is a total mismatch. Uruguay will enter on the fringe of the world’s top twenty nations, while Saudi Arabia have appeared closer to 70th on the list, making them one of the lowest-ranked teams at the tournament. If you look at each squad, it isn’t too difficult to see why the teams are poles apart.
Yet the one saving grace for Saudi Arabia is that they have beaten Uruguay previously, and in fact have not lost either of the two meetings between the nations. Although this will be the first competitive fixture between the pair, it’s funny how often history repeats itself in football. Will Saudi Arabia be able to pull off an upset and defeat the best team in the group?
We don’t think so. Saudi Arabia were dreadful in their opener against Russia. When the odds were first released, Uruguay were at -371, although after Saudi Arabia’s poor showing the odds have blown out to -681, which gives you an indication of the expected mismatch. You can select the draw, possibly the only other plausible result, at +650, while Saudi Arabia are rank outsiders at +1700.
If Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani remain fit and firing, it looks like Uruguay will win this in a canter. Don’t be put off by their lack of productivity in front of goal against Egypt – the Africans are a much more resolute team than the Saudis. Go for Uruguay @ -681. Our pick is a 3-0 victory to the South Americans.