Two South American heavyweights clash against each other on Friday night as Brazil face off against Uruguay at the Emirates Stadium, London.

Brazil are set to lock horns against neighbours Uruguay in an international friendly at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium this week, in what will be their penultimate game of the calendar year.

Following their quarter-final exit at the hands of Belgium in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Brazil have picked up four victories in a row in friendly matches. Last month, the Selecao defeated Saudi Arabia 2-0, before picking up a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Argentina in a high-profile encounter.

And Brazil head coach Tite will be hoping that his team continue in their winning ways and sign off the year on a high, as they gear up preparations for the next summer’s Copa America at home.

Uruguay, who were also quarter-finalists in the World Cup in Russia, have had contrasting fortunes in comparison to Friday’s opponents since the tournament. La Celeste have won just one of their previous three games and were beaten by Asian nations South Korea and Japan in their friendly encounters the last time they were in action.

Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez will be aiming to get things back on track with a win against Brazil on Friday, ahead of another highly-anticipated friendly game against Colombia coming up next week.

Team News & Tactics

Brazil

Brazil will have to make do without a few of their regulars, as Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho has been ruled out of action along with Real Madrid duo Casemiro and Marcelo. Alex Sandro, Rafinha Alcantara and Renato Augusto have been called up as replacements. Napoli midfielder Allan too, finds a spot in the squad named by Tite.

The Selecao are expected to line up in a 4-3-3 setup at the Emirates Stadium, with Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker the favourite to start between the sticks. With Dani Alves still recovering from an injury, Danilo should get the nod at right-back, while Filipe Luis is in line for a start on the left side. Marquinhos and Joao Miranda will slot in at the heart of the defence.

With Casemiro unavailable, the defensive midfielder slot is up for grabs and Hannover’s Walace could pip Allan and Fabinho to the starting berth on Friday. Barcelona’s Arthur Melo seems a certain starter in the middle of the park and is likely to be partnered up with former Barca star Paulinho.

Douglas Costa has earned back his place in the squad and should get the nod over Willian on the right flank, while superstar Neymar is a guaranteed starter out on the left. Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus are competing for the striker’s slot, with the latter likely to edge out the Liverpool man, having scored in last month’s friendly against Saudi Arabia.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Miranda, Luis; Paulinho, Walace, Arthur; Costa, Jesus, Neymar

Uruguay

Uruguay too, go into the game with several key players missing. First-choice goalkeeper Fernando Muslera is ruled out with an injury, while captain Diego Godin is also absent along with fellow Atletico Madrid teammate Jose Maria Gimenez and Sebastian Coates. RB Leipzig left-back Marcelo Saracchi, who made his international debut last month, is also ruled out.

Levante’s Erick Cabaco and Defensor Sporting’s Mathias Suarez received their first ever international call-ups, while Bruno Mendez is the third uncapped player in the 22-man squad picked by Tabarez for the upcoming games against Brazil and Colombia. Cristhian Stuani is another notable absentee for the South Americans.

35-year-old veteran keeper Martin Silva should start in goal in the absence of Muslera for La Celeste. Lazio defender Martin Caceres is likely to get the nod at right-back, while AC Milan’s Diego Laxalt should slot in as the left-back for the Uruguayans. At the centre of the backline, it will be the inexperienced pairing of Cabaco and Mauricio Lemos.

Lucas Torreira has been in splendid form for Arsenal and should start at the base of the midfield diamond for his national team. He will be supported by Matias Vecino and Rodrigo Bentancur in the middle of the park, with Giorgian de Arrascaeta, who has been in fine nick for Brazilian outfit Cruzeiro, most likely to occupy the No.10 slot.

Luis Suarez is back in the squad after missing the last set of friendlies with an injury. He should pair up with his usual partner-in-crime Edinson Cavani in attack.

Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): Silva; Caceres, Lemos, Cabaco, Laxalt; Torreira; Vecino, Bentancur; de Arrascaeta; Suarez, Cavani

Key Stats

  • Friday’s match at the Emirates Stadium will be the 76th contest between Brazil and Uruguay. The former enjoy a superior head to head record, having claimed 37 victories, while losing on 21 occasions.
  • Brazil’s record in friendlies this year has been brilliant. The Selecao have won all of their eight non-competitive fixtures in 2018, without conceding a goal.
  • Uruguay have won just one of their last four matches, losing the remaining three. In these games, La Celeste have conceded nine goals.
  • Brazil are unbeaten in their previous nine encounters against their neighbours. La Canarinha have scored at least two goals in each of their last six meetings against the Uruguayans.

Player to watch

Arthur Melo

Can Arthur step up in Coutinho's absence? (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Can Arthur step up in Coutinho’s absence? (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old midfielder completed a high profile move to Barcelona this past summer and has since gone on to establish himself as a key cog in the middle of the park for the Spanish champions. Arthur has featured 14 times across all competitions for the Catalans and while he has just a solitary assist to his name, his contributions to Ernesto Valverde’s side cannot be overstated.

Arthur made his international debut for Brazil in September earlier this year and has gone on to feature four times so far for Tite’s side. Someone who keeps the team ticking and possesses the vision and the creativity to unlock defences with ease, the 22-year-old will be key for the Selecao on Friday night, especially with their creator-in-chief Philippe Coutinho not available.

Prediction

Brazil 3-1 Uruguay

Both the teams come into the game with a number of key personnel ruled out. Brazil, however, have the depth and the quality in their squad to cope with the absences of their star players. The same cannot be said about Uruguay, though.

La Celeste have managed just one clean sheet in their last five matches and conceded as many as six goals in their last two fixtures against relatively less potent attacks like Japan and South Korea. Without the likes of Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez and Fernando Muslera, their defence looks extremely vulnerable.

And this Brazilian side, led by Neymar, possesses great quality in attack that can cause problems to any team in the world. As a result, we at The Hard Tackle, predict a comfortable victory for Tite’s men against their fellow South American opponents at the Emirates on Friday.