Frankly, something is broken when Saudi Arabia is in the 2018 World Cup and Italy, the USA and Dutch aren’t, but it is what it is. The Saudis looked overmatched in their opening 5-0 loss to Russia and they are huge MyBookie Sportsbook underdogs Wednesday against a much better Uruguay side in Group A action.
2018 World Cup Betting Preview: Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia
How nice is to start winning 👏👏👏the team’s effort had it’s reward in a very difficult game!!!! Here’s a photo with the main goalie @JoseMaGimenez13 ⚽ always working to improve 💪💪💪 🇺🇾 🇺🇾 🇺🇾 pic.twitter.com/cm7NpGnyvR
— Luis Suarez (@LuisSuarez9) 15 de junio de 2018
- When: Wednesday, 11 AM ET
- Where: Rostov Arena, Rostov-On-Don, Russia
- TV/Stream: Fox / Fox Sports Go
- 2018 World Cup Betting Odds: Uruguay -556 / Saudi Arabia +1450 / Draw +540 (Total at 3 goals)
Why Bet on Uruguay?
- Confederation: CONMEBOL
- Head coach: Óscar Tabárez
- Captain: Diego Godín
- FIFA Ranking: 14
Uruguay, the favorite to win Group A, opened with a 1-0 win over Egypt, catching a huge break with Egyptian star Mo Salah, the Premier League’s top scorer this season, sitting it out. Jose Gimenez scored an 89th-minute header to secure the win. Gimenez met a Carlos Sanchez free kick to score the goal that broke a run since 1960 of failing to win in the opening game of the World Cup finals.
The bad news is that star Luis Suarez, he of the biting incident at the last World Cup, looked out of sorts from the get-go. Suarez hit the side netting in the first half and twice failed to beat Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy from close range in the second. In 2010, Suarez’s hands earned him notoriety; in 2014 it was his teeth; so far at Russia 2018, his wastefulness with his feet has cost him and he’s running out of time to make the kind of impact on this stage that his talent merits.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez was at a loss to explain how Suarez missed three golden chances but refused to blame the striker.
“I don’t know what happened but I will not speculate,” Tabarez said in a postgame news conference. “I have seen many great players like [Lionel] Messi and [Diego] Maradona not living up to their potential in matches. It is not a sin. Suarez, as you say, was not playing as well as he normally does, but he had three scoring opportunities. The goalkeeper saved a couple of them. That happens to strikers.”
Suarez is set to play his 100th match for Uruguay when he takes the field against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, becoming the fifth most-capped player for the Celeste in the process. Amid numerous familiar names in the Uruguay lineup, one newcomer was youngster Nahitan Nandez. La Celeste’s 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup captain made his senior World Cup debut against Egypt on Friday.
Uruguay has an enviable record against Asian opposition in the FIFA World Cup: they have won all their games against Asian teams in the past, most recently seeing off Korea Republic in the Round of 16 at South Africa 2010.
- 1-F. Muslera
- 22-M. Cáceres
- 3-D. Godín
- 4-G. Varela
- 2-J. Giménez
- 15-M. Vecino
- 10-G. De Arrascaeta
- 8-N. Nández
- 6-R. Bentancur
- 9-L. Suárez
- 21-E. Cavani
Why Bet on Saudi Arabia?
- Confederation: AFC
- Head coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi
- Captain: Osama Hawsawi
- FIFA Ranking: 67
The Saudis got a big scare just getting to Rostov-on-Don as their plane had engine failure. The team posted photos of the players exiting the plane and smiling Monday night but did not release further details of the engine problem, despite video taken from on board the plane showing flames coming from beneath one of the wings.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation posted a statement on Twitter saying it “would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe, after a technical failure in one of the airplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”
The Saudis were simply no match for Russia on the opening 5-0 loss. Yet coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Russia “won without doing much,” blaming his own side’s short-comings for the loss rather than credit the hosts.
“I don’t think they did anything to surprise us,” Pizzi said. “They won without doing much — a poor [Saudi Arabia] performance explains this result.” Pizzi called the scoreline “shameful” and said his team would improve before facing Uruguay.
Pizzi made a change after 63 minutes vs. Egypt, bringing winger Fahad Al Muwallad on for midfielder Abdullah Otayf.
“Results like this don’t happen very often in World Cups and we need to recover from this shameful situation,” the Argentine said. “I trust my efforts, I trust my players and I fully trust that we’ll have a better performance in the next game.”
Pizzi is expected to make a number of changes in his side for Wednesday’s make-or-break match against Uruguay. Among the likely changes is Mohammed Al Owais as the goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf. The coach has been focused on defensive organization and fine-tuning a counter-attacking game.
Uruguay has never beaten Saudi Arabia. The pair has met twice in friendly matches down the years, first came in 2002 where the Green Falcons won 3-2, with La Celeste’s goals coming from Fabian O’Neill and Diego Forlan. The second was four years ago, ending in a 1-1 draw.
- 1-A. Al Maiouf
- 3-O. Hawsawi
- 13-Y. Al Shahrani
- 5-O. Hawsawi
- 6-M. Al Burayk
- 17-T. Al Jassim
- 8-Y. Al Shehri
- 7-S. Al Faraj
- 18-S. Al Dawsari
- 14-A. Otayf
- 10-M. Al Sahlawi
Expert Final Prediction
Uruguay 3 – Saudi Arabia 0