Football / Preview / World Cup Day One

World Cup: Day One

The opening day of the World Cup sees hosts South Africa take on Mexico and Uruguay face 2006 finalists France.

South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena


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South Africa (Bettorlogic rank 83) v Mexico (11) (Fri, 15:00)

No host has lost their opening World Cup match – W7-D4-L0 since 1970 – but just five teams have played higher ranked opposition and no side has faced a team more than 15 places above in the rankings, let alone the 72 that exists here.

South Africa haven’t won a finals match since they faced Benin in their opening game in the 2004 African Cup of Nations. Since that victory, they have been beaten in five of their eight matches, with four losses-to-nil and four defeats by two clear goals, and as a result their ranking has slowly declined to its current position. Further, they failed to qualify for this year’s edition of the Cup of Nations.

Mexico themselves are short of tournament experience. The last Copa America took place way-back in 2007, where the Mexicans performed brilliantly to finish third after being knocked-out in the semis by Argentina. Since then, Sven Goran Ericsson has come and gone as manager. Javier Aguirre was brought in to salvage the wreckage left by Ericsson and he successfully guided Mexico to the finals in the CONCACAF qualifying section courtesy of five consecutive wins. Aguirre was also in charge in 2002, when Mexico topped Group G ahead of Ecuador, Croatia and Italy. Moreover, they have won two of their three finals matches against teams with a Bettorlogic rank of 51+ and they are undefeated in 16 finals games against teams ranked at least 10 places lower than themselves with eight wins.

Recommendation: Mexico Win 2.62, VC


Uruguay (13) v France (8) (Fri, 19:30)

This is the only group stage match between two nations who have previously won the World Cup. France are the longest priced favourites to win their group as they face two other top-15 ranked sides as well as the tournament hosts.

Uruguay are blessed with firepower up front thanks to their starting duo of Ajax’s Luis Suarez and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan. Interestingly, this is just the third time since 1990 that they have qualified for the World Cup and their previous record is worrying. Since 1970, they have won just two of 20 matches, although they have progressed past the first round in three of five attempts. 12 of the 20 games have been tied at the break and six of these were D/D doubles. Over the same period, including Copa America fixtures, they have won only three of 24 matches against top-10 ranked sides with 19 (79%) -2.5 goals games.

Much has been written about France’s controversial World Cup campaign. They qualified by virtue of Thierry Henry’s handball and they have a coach who has been vilified in his home press. Worryingly, for the hosts, holding-midfielder Lasanna Diarra has been ruled out of the tournament but the 2006 finalists can still rely on the talents of Hugo Lloris, Yoann Gourcuff, Franck Ribery, Henry and Nicolas Anelka as well as full-backs Eric Abidal, Patrice Evra and Gael Clichy. France have won only 9/23 finals matches this century and 11 of the games were tied at the interval. 14 of the fixtures saw fewer than three goals while seven featured at most one. Since they hosted and won the 1998 edition of the World Cup, France have lost just one of their 11 finals matches against teams ranked 11-30 with six draws and seven HT stalemates. In-play traders should note that France have lost just one of their last 26 finals matches when they have been tied at the interval.

Recommendation: HT draw 2.10 Bet365/Coral



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