It has been 364 days since the last time Uruguay geared up against Argentina and since that time not much has changed besides the fact that both associations have finally confirmed an inevitable joint bid for the 2030 World Cup. Uruguay is enjoying their traditional mid-qualifier slump and Argentina is scrambling to put a team together under the fresh guidance of a new coach, this time under Jorge Sampaoli. That’s right the same man who brought Chile to the promise land in the 2015 Copa America will now try to implement his influence on a struggling Argentina team who is looking to find some sort of form before the World Cup next summer. (Let’s be real here, they will be there whether we like it or not).
Uruguay looking for their first clasico goal since their 3-2 Win over Argentina in 2013 has inserted TWO major changes into their lineup for tomorrow as reported by the Tabarez-loving press; that is no Arevalo Rios and no Maxi Pereira, instead we get Caceres at right-back with Gaston Silva returning at left-back and Boca’s Nathian Nandez sliding into the midfield. If Tabarez sticks to his usual ultra-defensive 4-4-2 that means either Tata Gonzalez or Nandez will be shifted more out wide to the right. Meanwhile the absence of Maxi Pereira will mean Uruguay will have no-natural fullbacks on the field of play as the entire back four have been playing predominantly in center-back roles for their clubs this season. What looks somewhat impressive is Uruguay’s bench and the promise it can bring during the game if Tabarez decides to properly use it. Lemos, Pereiro and Valverde all who have been finally given their chance in the National Team show potential and life however it is key to note that had Abel Hernandez not been injured we would not have seen the inclusion of Gaston Pereiro. Finally we get some young blood however; the statistics will tell us another story as 14 of the 25 players in Tabarez’s squad are of the age of 30 or older. Lastly; Luis Suarez who was supposed to be out for up to a month has sped up his recovery and managed to get himself into the lineup after a knee injuiy suffered a couple weeks ago against Real Madrid. (Last time we saw this happen – See England game Brazil 2014).
Uruguay need to brace themselves because we really don’t know what to expect from this Argentina team who are desperate for points. Sampaoli as he usually does will be expected to hit the ultra-attacking switch tonight. The front three of Messi, Dybala and Icardi will provide plently of troubles to Uruguay’s back four. Where Argentina can prove weak is in their tactical flexibility as the players are yet to fully grasp what Jorge Sampaoli truly wants from this side. Another point of attack for Uruguay will also be the back three and leaving spaces for Suarez and Cavani to create on the counter attack. The Argentinian press is projecting a 3-4-1-2 from Sampaoli with either Fazio or Mascherano playing in the heart of the defence.
The game overall will have a major impact on the outcome of the qualifiers as anywhere from 2nd place to 6th place is a toss up at the moment in CONMEBOL and after Chile was able to maintain the points from TAS things have become even more complicated and important meaning that teams cannot afford to slip into a run of poor results. The usual cutoff for a top 5 finish has been 23-25 points over recent qualifying campaigns however expect it to be 27-28 points this time around meaning Uruguay who have lost their last 5 games (Italy, Republic of Ireland, Peru, Brazil and Chile) need to find form fast. Otherwise we could be looking at another “repechaje”/playoff for La Celeste or even worse elimination from the World Cup. Before we get too negative we can look at a positive that a win against Argentina tonight will significantly increase Uruguay’s chances of qualifying. So let’s enjoy the game, comment and talk below as Uruguay is back in action!