SATURDAY'S opening last-16 ties have thrown up two fiery affairs – and there could be more cards than goals.

First up fans can savour France v Argentina and then there's an appetising clash between Portugal and Uruguay.

Portugal v Uruguay (7pm)

There are loads of sub-plots here and all four countries are likely to fight to the finish.

Cristiano Ronaldo's always good for an argument and his battle with centre-halves Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez will be fascinating.

It might be Portugal v Uruguay but this is Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid with no love lost.

And what about former Real defender Pepe up against Barcelona hitman Luis Saurez who is Uruguay's leading hitman of all time.

That's only two tussles that could lead to yellow and bookies have set the total at five. If you think that's high take both teams to have 2+ bookings at 23-20 with William Hill.

First player to be booked is an interesting one and Pepe is 12-1 at McBookie with Ronaldo 20-1 with bet365. Godin is 12-1 with bet365.

A red card is possible and that pays 18-5 at Unibet – double it up with the France game and you get 22-1 at Marathonbet.

Picking a winner in the evening game is difficult – Portugal started well with that 3-3 against Spain but struggled against Morocco and Iran.

Uruguay won all their matches to nil but 1-0 successes against weak duo Egypt and Saudi Arabia were as unimpressive as the 3-0 defeat of hosts Russia was classy.

They are 9-5 favourites with Betfred but there isn't much in it with the European champs 20-1 at the same firm.

A draw is possible at 2-1 with bet365 and that would of course force extra time. Either to win after 120 minutes pays 5-1 at Sky Bet while you can pick either side to win on penalties at 9-2.

Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani don't always work well but both have been among the goals and strike fear into any side.

I prefer Cavani and his aerial ability could be crucial but Suarez poses the bigger goal threat as he's a more of a poacher.

The Barcelona man is 4-1 favourite at bet365 to score first with Cavani just slightly bigger at 9-2

Ronaldo, with four goals in the tournament, is 9-2 at Unibet and will be desperate to make amends for his missed penalty against Iran that almost proved so costly. He is 8-5 to net at any time.

VAR has meant more penalties than usual and one to be awarded tonight pays 7-4 at BetStars. Both sides are 22-1 to miss one.

We know Portugal can stifle defences but they haven't been as tight as they were in the Euros with four goals conceded.

There are so many top-class strikers on show that hopefully we'll see an open game with both teams scoring at 13-10 with 10Bet.

Recommended Bets

  • Pepe to be booked first (12-1, bet365)
  • Both teams to score (13-10, 10Bet)
  • Both teams to have 2+ cards (23-20, William Hill)
  • Ronaldo to score (8-5, Unibet)

France v Argentina (3pm)

First up on Saturday it’s France v Argentina and that’s got the potential to be a cracker. The French have been disappointing in all of their group games while the South Americans scraped through with a late winner against Nigeria.

Lionel Messi turned player-boss to drag his side across the line and it’s not an ideal situation with players having lost faith in manager Jorge Sampaoli.

For all their troubles in these finals at least the French look united and have an array of talented stars who can effect big games – Paul Pogba, Antonie Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, etc.

When you look at Argentina the problem is feeding Messi in dangerous areas and for me France, if they rise to the occasion, should win.

They are a best 29-20 at bet365 with Argentina 13-5 at betfair and the draw 21-10 at McBookie.

Mbappe looked the liveliest when coming on against Denmark and netted the winner against Peru so he’s the one who makes most appeal in the scorer markets.

He’s netted first in two of his last three internationals and is 13-2 at bet365 to do so again.

Griezmann came into the tournament with hopes of winning the Ballon D'Or but he's played more like a balloon.

His only goal came from the spot v Australia but he could come alight at any time and is 5-1 at Marathonbet to score first.

Once again Argentina will be hoping for Messi to work his magic and the skipper is 23-5 at Unibet to strike first and 28-13 to score.

As for bookings the line is set again at five but I like Argentina to have most cards at 4-5 with William Hill.

Contenders to be booked include Pogba, Argentine centre-half Nicolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano and Marcos Rojo, the goal hero against Nigeria.

Man United defender Rojo, who is likely to start, was carded on just over half of his appearances in England last season. He is 10-1 at bet365 for first booking – as are Otamendi and Mascherano.

Pogba is 12-1 and Messi a massive 33-1 and he has known to be frustrated – and of course was cautioned late on against Nigeria.

Recommended Bets

1 Comment
  1. craigo11 1 year ago

    France vs Argentina
    It’s all about if France turn up for me and if they play at 50% I still expect them to win
    Argentina are a poor team and are not only lucky to be in the last 16 they were lucky to even qualify!

    A very generous goal time France to score before 60mins 5/6 NAP

    Next best
    France over 1.5tgs 7/4

    Good luck

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