Mbappe and Kane joint-favourites to be MVP

Two forwards at their first World Cup lead the way in the Golden Ball betting and Kylian Mbappe gets the first opportunity to stake his claim to being the best player at the tournament when France face Uruguay in the opening quarter-final.

Mbappe is 4-1 joint-favourite for the Golden Ball alongside England's Harry Kane but the teenager has been the talk of Russia since his devastating display helped Les Bleus beat Argentina 4-3 in the last 16.

It was a performance that propelled Mbappe to superstardom and the speedy teenager will be aiming for more of the same against a Uruguay side who have conceded just once at the World Cup.

Kane has been less eye-catching than Mbappe but even more effective for England with six goals in three appearances, scoring a hat-trick against Panama, two against Tunisia and breaking the deadlock in Tuesday's triumph over Colombia as well as converting his kick in the shootout.

Talking of penalties, Kane has three of them in his six-goal haul so whether that counts against him remains to be seen. In terms of the Golden Ball he could probably do with more goals from open play, starting with Saturday's quarter-final showdown against Sweden.

Mbappe's jaw-dropping antics in the last 16 apart, it has not been a tournament full of amazing individual talent and there could yet be an opportunity for someone to come from the pack to take the Golden Ball.

Brazil, who face Belgium on Friday, have the next two players in the list with 6-1 Neymar and 8-1 Philippe Coutinho, with Croatia captain Luka Modric alongside Belgium's Eden Hazard at 14-1.

This quarter-finals should at least determine who won't be claiming the Golden Ball, as it is unlikely a beaten quarter-finalist will have done enough to take the trophy and it's the same story in battle for the Golden Glove for the best goalkeeper of the tournament.

Alisson of Brazil leads the way in that market at 3-1 from 9-2 poke England's Jordan Pickford, who followed his save of the tournament contender from Mateus Uribe with a vital stop in the shootout success against Colombia.

Match in Focus


Ireland v N Ireland

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Ireland have two clean sheets in nine home games
Expert verdict
This will be a friendly in name only and looks set to conjure up goals in the first Irish derby since 2011. Both sides are out of form and bottom of their Nations League groups but will be motivated to perform under the lights of the Aviva Stadium. The return of Kyle Lafferty should be a big boost for the visitors.



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