Apart from Brazil vs Argentina, in South America, the clash between the Selecao and Uruguay is another contest, which garners huge interest among the football fans back in South America. Traditionally, their rivalry is known as also known as El Clásico del Río Negro, or Clássico do Rio Negro.  The games between them have a very tense atmosphere due to their infamous encounter in the de facto World Cup Final in 1950, where Uruguay surprisingly beat the hot favourites Brazil at the Maracana Stadium allowing La Celeste to claim their 2nd World Cup title.

The game nicknamed, the Maracanazo, is considered by many Brazilians (and the world media) as one of the nation’s worst and most embarrassing defeats ever!

Since then, Brazil have proved to be the more dominant team, both head-to-head with Uruguay and at international tournaments like the FIFA World Cup and Copa America.

However, whenever they play against each other, there is a lot of fear in the Brazilian public that the “Phantom of 50” would resurface and they would lose again just like in 1950. Many Uruguayan fans love to remind their next-door neighbors of the “Phantom of 50”, although many Brazilians say that the phantom is gone as Brazil have won 5 World Cups (the most of any nation), and Uruguay hasn’t reached another final since 1950!

In the World Cup Qualifiers, both the teams met for the first time in 1994 at Montevideo where Brazil were halted by 1-1 and made the possibility of qualification for the USA 94 a tough task – the teams met at Maracana for the return clash and it gave birth to a legend named Romario, whose double strike not only ensured Brazil’s qualification but broke the 24-year jinx as well!

Uruguay lost their sting for almost four decades until they rediscovered their lost mojo back in South Africa 2010. Even when they were not a force to be reckoned in world football, in Montevideo, they always tested Brazil and whenever, Uruguay meet teams like Argentina and Brazil – they change their colours.

At the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, on Tuesday night, it would be another World Cup Qualifying adventure for Brazil and Uruguay.

Uruguay are currently fourth in the qualifying table, having picked up six points from their three games. Oscar Tabarez’s side started the qualifiers with a 2-1 win against Chile following which they slumped to a 4-2 defeat against Ecuador.

La Celeste thrashed Colombia last week and will be hoping to carry forward the momentum at home.

Brazil, on the other hand, are perched atop the standings, with the Selecao being the only team to have a 100 per cent record in the qualifiers so far.

The last time these two teams squared off was in 2018, in a friendly setting, with Brazil emerging as 1-0 victors.

This time around, Brazil would be without their five major players and would invest faith in their bench strength, which discovered the going tough against Venezuela at Sao Paulo, who decided to frustrate Brazil by sitting deep and defend. Surely, the Uruguayan manager, Oscar Tabrez has witnessed the Brazilian struggle against Venezuela and might also decide to strengthen their defence and fill the spaces so that Brazil can’t breathe.

Martin Silva, Sebastian Coates, Ronald Araujo, Federico Valverde, Giorgian De Arrascaeta and Maxi Gomez are all out with injuries. Yonatan Irrazabal, Alexis Rolin and Gabriel Neves have been called up as replacements. In addition, defender Matias Vina and striker Luis Suarez would miss out after testing positive for COVID-19.

Tabarez would go with his favourite 4-4-2 formation.

Martin Campana is expected to start as the shot-stopper with the first-choice centre-back pairing of Jose Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin also remaining intact. With Vina out, Agustin Oliveros is expected to step into the side at left-back while Caceres on the right.

In the midfield, Nahitan Nandez and Nicolas De La Cruz would occupy the right and left midfield respectively. The responsibility of holding the fort in the middle of the park will fall on the shoulders of Lucas Torreira, while Rodrigo Bentancur will look forward to lying just behind the two strikers lying at the tip of the diamond shape, which might change from 4-4-2 to 4-3-1-2 or even 4-5-1 if the scorer decides to join the midfield to suffocate Brazil.

Inform Edinson Cavani would provide the cutting edge up front along with Darwin Nunez.

The expected XI of Uruguay suggests, they would invite Brazil to advance forward and caught them on the counter. After the frustrating night against Venezuela, it is expected, Brazil would come out all guns blazing against Uruguay to shrug off their struggle in the final third against teams, which invest faith in low-block.

Tite might stick to the same side, which played against Venezuela, but if he does such, he needs to keep in mind; the midfield trio of Douglas Luiz, Allan and Everton Rebeiro failed to dish out any sort of creativity and provided a lot of miscued passes.

This midfield needs Arthur in Montevideo – the man who has the ability to dictate the game from deep and orchestrate attacks. He is a creative force and Brazil would need him at the center of the park to mobilize things.

Meanwhile, the struggle of Gabriel Jesus was evident and the inclusion of Everton Soares on the right flank would be a sensible choice. Soares is a dynamic player as a winger, blessed with pace and dribbling abilities, which would be needed to break the resistance of Gimenez and Godin. This reminds us of Vinicius Junior and his dribbling abilities, which could help to inject life in the second half if Richarlison fails to deliver.

This will be the 77th meeting between Uruguay and Brazil. The latter has the upper-hand when it comes to head-to-head record, having picked up 38 wins, in comparison to the former’s 21 (D17).

Brazil are unbeaten in their last ten fixtures against Uruguay. The last time the Selecao lost against their South American rivals was in 2001.

Uruguay have lost just one of their previous nine fixtures in all competition – that defeat came last month against Ecuador.

Most importantly, under Oscar Tabarez, still, Uruguay have not beaten Brazil.

Brazil are expected to conquer Montevideo!