The future is Oranje, Uruguay to get sloppy seconds

Forlorn no more
If Meatloaf thought two out three ain’t bad then he should have seen our World Cup quarter-final tips last week, in which a back-patting four out of five weren’t bad neither. So with the first World Cup semi-final due to get under way we thought we’d print you some more free money.

Today the question on everyone’s lips is, can Uruguay beat the Netherlands? As Barack Obama would say, yes they can? But whether they will or not is another matter. The other question on everyone’s lips is, how hot is Diego Forlan’s girlfriend, Zaira Nara? But there are no rewards for answering that question, unless you happen to be Diego Forlan. So back to the match.

As someone who backed Uruguay on the spreads, this smug punter is already quids in thank you very much and if three-goal hitman Forlan manages to score as outstandingly as he does off the field at the Green Point Stadium today then yours truly will be booking a trip to Uruguay to personally congratulate the man himself. The striker was 64/1 to be World Cup Top Goalscorer at the start of the tournament. However, you do get the nagging feeling that Uruguay’s battle is done.

If La Celeste had a full contingent to choose from they might be worth backing but they could be without up to four of their first-choice regulars for tonight’s Cape Town clash. Left-back Jorge Fucile is suspended and more importantly, so is sharp-shooter-cum-emergency-goalkeeper Luis Suarez. If that wasn’t bad enough creative midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro is out with a foot injury and captain Diego Lugano is struggling to shake off a knee problem.

Forlan: he shoots... he scores Zaira Nara

Lugano has been excellent this tournament and will probably play through gritted teeth, but a patchwork side – with Alvaro Periera trying to contain Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben and Edinson Cavani up front alongside Diego Forlan – is not the best weapon with which to take on a Netherlands side that hasn’t lost for 24 matches.

For their part Holland will be slightly weakened without their suspended right-back Gregory van der Viel and midfielder Nigel De Jong, who should be replaced by the pretty average Khalid Boulharouz and Demy De Zeeuw, but this shouldn’t affect the Oranje too much, because with Dirk Kuyt’s tireless running, Arjen Robben’s peerless diving and Mark van Bommel’s relentless fouling it’s difficult to see anything other than a Holland win.

Uruguay’s only hope is if the referee decides to punish Holland’s dirty spoiling tactics, but given how the South Americans got through the last round it’s unlikely they will get any favours from Uzbekistani referee Ravshan Irmatov, who has generally kept his cards in his pocket this tournament.

There isn’t much value in backing the Dutch, so the best plan is to opt for the correct score, first goalscorer or half-time/full-time market. Uruguay tend to start strongly before knackering themselves out and, having played extra-time twice in their last two matches, they will probably hold out until the second half before running out of steam.

Here’s hoping Diego doesn’t run out of steam. If he does, I’ll be first in line for sloppy seconds.

Back HT/FT: Draw/Holland @ 16/5 (Bodog); Holland to win 2-0 @ 11/2 (Bodog); First goal to come after 28th minute @ Evens (Bodog)