Sometimes, things are not always as they should be (and I’m not talking about that ‘girl’ I met in Bangkok). Look at Uruguay: Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, Chelsea and Manchester City target Edinson Cavani and former Manchester United star Diego Forlan might all be regulars in their starting line-up, but a bit like Donald Trump’s hair, everything is in place yet it’s all a bit of a mess.
Uruguay boast some of the best players in world football in their squad – Suarez and Cavani could even be playing up front together for Real Madrid next season – but there seems to be something wrong at the heart of the squad at the moment.
Their 2-1 defeat to Spain on Sunday, although expected, was symbolic of recent troubles: shapeless and spiritless, it could have been a cricket score and there is something which makes me very wary about getting on board with them with my own money.
And as Oscar Tabárez’s side head into their must-not-lose Confederations Cup Group B fixture with Africa Cup of Nations champions Nigeria, I am not quite sure why they are priced up at such short odds (7/10) to get the better of a team that have outperformed them in the last 18 months, even if Uruguay undoubtedly possess more quality.
Despite their apparent talent, Uruguay have been much less than the sum of their parts over recent months.
Struggling to qualify for next year’s World Cup in a South American section that doesn’t even have Brazil to contend with, their form has been poor in the extreme, with just three wins from their last 16 matches stretching back to February 2012.
So it begs the question: are Uruguay really that much better than Nigeria? Are they even better at all? I am really not too sure about that, and I think it gives us an opportunity to take advantage of some generous prices about the Africans.
The 7/10 is too short for Uruguay and while the 37/10 on Nigeria looks big, I am going to play on a combination of that and the draw (priced up at 27/10) and back the Super Eagles to avoid defeat at a tasty-looking odds-against quote of 21/20.
Stephen Keshi’s side are being underestimated by that price by my reckoning. Champions of Africa let’s not forget, Nigeria haven’t lost for 18 games now and this fine young side is not used to the taste of defeat.
And despite all their attacking talent, Uruguay are struggling to score goals. In those 16 games, Tabárez’s side have scored more than one goal on just two occasions – an incredible statistic when you think of the players they can call upon.
They have kept just two clean sheets in that sequence and if you are a team that is struggling to score and that can’t shut the opposition out, you are not going to win matches no matter who is on the pitch.
And I sense that at 21/20, Nigeria look a good bet to keep up their own momentum by avoiding defeat for a 19th game in succession.