Saudi Arabia v Egypt: Egypt to win – 5/6
With just the Red Sea separating them, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are no strangers at staring across at each other. However, they’ll do it all again in the unusual location of Volgograd on Monday, as they both try to salvage some pride from their respective World Cup campaigns.
Egypt will be still smarting from leaving Jose Gimenez free to pick them off in the last minute in their opener, but their campaign has been dogged by world’s most talked about shoulder injury – Mo Salah’s, not Gareth Southgate’s (sorry England fans). They can have no complaints about their 3-1 defeat to Russia in their second outing though.
On the flip side – between dodgy plane rides, a Russia hammering (not as sinister as it sounds) and a stroll in the park for Uruguay – it’s a case of the less said the better for Saudi Arabia’s World Cup journey.
He may now be an honorary citizen of Chechnya, but Mo Salah could literally be the difference between these two if he plays and even if he doesn’t, the mere fact that Egypt have at least managed to score a goal in the tournament means we’re picking them to win at 5/6.
Uruguay v Russia: Draw – 2/1
Uruguay may have been everyone’s dark horses leading up to the World Cup, but they’ve barely had to raise a gallop to progress out Group A.
Meanwhile, Russia came into this ranked the lowest of any team in the competition and were tipped to struggle. However, performances pumped full of … shall we say national pride has seen them score a whopping eight times in their two games.
You’d believe that both sides would want to avoid Spain in the next round. However, given that Spain and Portugal are locked at the top of Group B and goal difference is likely be the decider there (sorry Iran, but you’ve got no chance), Russia and Uruguay have no way of knowing how that group will pan out with those games kicking off at 7pm.
We reckon they’ll settle for a 2/1 draw here and let the cards fall where they may later in the evening.
Iran v Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo to score anytime – 5/6
Seriously, has there ever been a more obvious bet in the history of tournament football?
Ronnie has netted all four of Portugal’s World Cup goals and why would they look elsewhere when the former Manchester United star is in the form he’s in?
With Lionel Messi’s campaign in utter disarray, Ronaldo would love nothing more than to stick it to his greatest rival by keeping his personal scoreboard ticking over nicely. We all know he’d give Boris Johnson a run in the selfishness stakes and the Golden Boot award will be firmly on his mind.
Iran’s defence put up an admirable display of stubbornness against the Spanish, but we fancy some classic Cristiano on Monday and we’re all over the 5/6 gamble for an anytime goal.
Spain v Morocco: Spain (-1) – 10/11
With a lot of historical water under the bridge, don’t be fooled – Spain v Morocco is most certainly a passionate derby.
In football terms though, the gap between them in terms of quality is much bigger then the Strait of Gibraltar. Morocco haven’t got over that last second defeat to Iran and we reckon Spain – who have put their pre-World Cup drama to bed seemingly – could well have a field day now that their opponents have no chance of qualifying.
Diego Costa has bulldozed (or b**tarded) his way to three World Cup strikes to date and he could be a nifty punt at 11/4 for the opening goal too.
With Spain possession-based style looking in great working order, you just can’t predict anything but a heavy defeat for the Moroccans here and we’ve taking them to cover the handicap at 10/11.
* All odds correct at time of posting.