Best Bet for Mexico-Saudi Arabia
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Yesterday the World Cup went goal crazy, and I believe goals and bookings will go up in these final sets of matches in the group stage. The other thing to consider on both cards and goals markets is the length of the games in this World Cup, as injury time is regularly up to and even over 10 minutes. More game time logically equals more fouls, so more yellow cards and more goals, even more so in winner-take-all matches.
For my pick of the day on Wednesday, we are heading to the Mexico versus Saudi Arabia game in the final matches of Group C. In this group, all four teams are still alive heading into the final fixtures with an opportunity to book their place into the last 16. For Mexico, which currently has only one point out of a possible six and has yet to score a goal, the task is a simple one. They must win this game to have a chance of finishing second and progressing.
I expect Mexico boss Gerardo Martino to have his players fired up to get that win. Mexico will gain confidence from their unbeaten record against the Saudis with their five meetings ending in four Mexico wins and a draw. With nothing less than a win needed, Mexico will be desperate to have their strongest team out there and may risk starting Wolves striker Raúl Jiménez who has been out injured for most of the season. He is struggling for full fitness and has been seen from the bench with less than 25 minutes to go in both games. Starting him is a risk, but in Mexico’s situation, it may be a risk Martino feels is worth taking.
As I predicted, the Saudis were brought down to earth with a bang, losing 2-0 to Poland after causing the biggest shock in the World Cup so far by beating Argentina 2-1 in their opening game. To put into context, the level of that shock in the UK after falling behind 1-0, the Saudis traded in running at 1000/1! Despite the defeat to the Poles, the Saudis proudly sit atop group C with Argentina, and they know that a win here will take them through. The Saudis are a settled team despite the loss of defender Yasser Al Shahrani who, after a sickening clash with his own keeper, suffered internal bleeding and required facial surgery. He may struggle to sing the National Anthem on Wednesday, but hopefully will be ok soon.
This is a huge fixture with so much on the line, and both teams will be fully prepared to give it everything. History tells us in these situations, that means yellow cards. In the last 11 games of this nature, when qualification was still a possibility, overs have cashed in no less than eight of them.
Both these sides have already picked up plenty of cards with Mexico picking up two against Poland and two against Argentina. The Saudis also racked up two yellows against Poland and received six against Argentina. This is likely to be a tense affair, and many of these final-round qualification games can be bad-tempered. With both teams featuring combative midfielders who like to get stuck in, I can see the over 4.5 cards in this match cashing yet again. It has to be the play of the day here at -120.
Pick: Over 4.5 cards at -120