A top of the table match-off against Brazil faces Uruguay as the country looks to put one foot in the World Cup qualification places
With just one-third of the qualifying campaign in South America remaining for the World Cup in 2018, every point is now worth gold. Uruguay currently sits in second place four points from Brazil at the top, but cannot show any signs of slowing down as the table is still very tight. The two upcoming games vs. Brazil and Peru are therefore vital in securing a ticket to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
First up is Brazil at the Estadio Centenario on Thursday night. The Uruguay-Brazil matchup is one of the biggest and most eagerly anticipated fixtures in world football, dating back to the famous World Cup final in 1950. The stakes are always high when the two nations meet and this time around is no exception.
Brazil have been the best side in the CONMEBOL qualifiers since Tite took over from Dunga. Six wins out of six games in charge have seen the Pentacampeões rise from sixth to first. An extension of their winning run will mean an end to Uruguay’s impressive home record – La Celeste haven’t lost a single World Cup qualifier since October 2009.
A factor that will limit Uruguay’s and increase Brazil’s chances on Thursday is the absence of Luis Suárez and Fernando Muslera. Both players are suspended for the game after picking up too many yellows. The replacement of Suárez will probably be Bordeaux striker Diego Rolán, who has been in fine form lately.
It will be hard for Uruguay to maintain their outstanding home form, given the absentees and the rampant streak Brazil is on. The last qualifier in Montevideo between the two sides back in 2009 also doesn’t present Uruguay with a lot of confidence as Brazil humiliated the home side 4-0.
Four days after the clash with Brazil, another World Cup qualifier is scheduled for Oscar Tabárez’ men. Away in Lima, Uruguay play eighth-placed Peru. Los Incas, still in the race for World Cup qualification – but only just – are desperate for points and will give Uruguay a run for their money.
The last time Uruguay faced Peru away from home, a certain Luis Suárez stole the show with a splendid brace. It helped Uruguay to a key win on the road to the World Cup in Brazil.
For Uruguay, a win away in Peru would mean a big step towards Russia. Brazil at home will be difficult but at least a draw will do for the record Copa América champions. A tally of four points out of the two games will put Uruguay on 27 points; a tally that historically is enough for qualification.