Much is at stake in the traditional South American derby as a victory for either of the two sides would steer them closer towards South Africa...
Kick-Off: Saturday, June 6, 16:00 Local Time. Centenario stadium, Montevideo.
World Cup Berth at Stake
The South American derby between Uruguay and Brazil promises to be one of the most exciting matches of the entire qualifying competition because both teams will be looking for a victory that would steer them closer towards the World Cup.
Uruguay are needier than Brazil, because they find themselves in fifth place and anything less than the three points could see either Ecuador or Colombia oust them for a playoff berth with a team from the Concacaf region. But the motivated Uruguayans will be after a victory that could even see them snatch an automatic World Cup spot, if they finish the competition in style.
With 21 goals in 12 matches Uruguay are the highest scoring team in the qualifiers, and they are also one of the teams who have conceded the least amount of goals. Perhaps their greatest asset in Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan, who finished as the highest scorer in Spain with 32 goals, and also the highest scorer in the whole of Europe. Forlan constantly finds the back of the net for La Celeste and will he hoping to continue his sensational form against the Brazilians.
Uruguay are one of few teams in the world who always give Brazil a run for their money, and in recent times Uruguay have picked up a number of favourable results, even if the Brazilians beat them in the first round of the competition. In the 2-1 defeat at the Morumbi stadium Uruguay completely outplayed Brazil, and were very unlucky to end up with nothing.
A capacity crowd of 70,000 at the Centenario stadium await an absolute blockbuster. Uruguay know that if they claim a victory they will be in a good position to reach their first World Cup since 2002.
Time to Make a Difference
The five-time World Champions have been rather inconsistent during their qualifying campaign, and will aim to silence the critics with a victory over one of their biggest rivals. Brazil may find themselves in second place, three points behind group leaders Paraguay, but they have only won five of their twelve qualifiers up until now. For Brazil this isn't a very good record, and this is much of the reason Carlos Dunga has been under fire.
Against Uruguay the Selecao will be after a positive result, even if they don't have a very good history against the locals. Brazil came into the 1950 World Cup final as the overwhelming favourites, but were beaten 2-1 by Uruguay despite the support of 200,000 fans at the Maracana stadium. More recently, Uruguay beat Brazil in the final of the 1995 Copa America after penalty kicks. The Brazilians know it won't be easy, but they managed to pick up a 1-1 draw the last time the teams met in Montevideo for a World Cup qualifier.
Brazil, who were only beaten by Paraguay in the qualifiers, count with one of the most exciting squads in world football, and the likes of Kaka, Robinho, Alexandre Pato and Luis Fabiano will be hoping to turn on the style. Luis Fabiano scored both of Brazil's goals against Uruguay in the first round, and will be hoping to find the back of the net once again.
Without a single victory over Uruguay in Montevideo for 33 years, Brazil will surely sit back in defence and look to explode on swift counterattacks. In the past Brazil have lost four times and drawn three times when playing in the Uruguayan capital.
The only question mark was as to whether Sebastian Viera or Juan Castillo would start in goal. Finally it seems that Oscar Tabarez went with Viera, who returned to the Uruguay goal in their last home qualifier against Paraguay. The biggest inclusion, however, is that of Catania midfielder Jorge Martinez. Team captain Diego Lugano will miss the match due to suspension.
Possible Starting XI -
Sebastian Viera, Maximiliano Pereira, Carlos Valdez, Diego Godin, Martin Caceres, Jorge Martinez, Diego Perez, Sebastian Eguren, Alvaro Pereira, Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan.
Dunga will likely field a full strength squad against Uruguay, with the only player in doubt being Inter Milan defender Maicon. If he doesn't recover in time he will be replaced by Daniel Alves of European champions Barcelona. As well as this, both Juan and Julio Baptista have slight knocks, but they are expected to be healthy for the match.
Possible Starting XI -
Julio Cesar, Daniel Alves, Lucio, Juan, Kleber, Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo, Elano, Kaka, Robinho and Luis Fabiano.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Uruguay - Diego Forlan
Forlan's 32 goals for Atletico Madrid in La Liga last season weren't only worth the Pichichi trophy but the former Manchester United striker finished as the top scorer in Europe for the second time. Forlan has been in fine form for Uruguay during the qualifiers as well and he will be looking to add to his personal tally against Brazil. If he is supplied with the right service he could give the Brazilian defence a real nightmare.
Brazil - Kaka
The fact that he is on the verge of completing a lucrative move to Real Madrid should be a further motivation for the former World Footballer of the Year. Kaka is without doubt Brazil's most influential player, and the absence of Ronaldinho will give him a greater responsibility against Uruguay. Expect another brilliant performance for Kaka, in one of the most important games of the year.
Although it is unknown how both teams will confront the match you can expect an extremely tight contest. Battles between both teams have been very fiery in the past, and the home advantage should boost Uruguay's chances of picking up the three points. The fact that Brazil haven't won in Uruguay in 33 years means La Celeste come into the clash as the favourites.
Uruguay 2 - 1 Brazil
Gregory Sica, Goal.com
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