Argentina and Uruguay will be hoping to pick up their first win of the Copa America 2021 when they clash in the Clásico del Río de la Plata this Friday.
One of the biggest matches of the 2021 edition of Copa America comes our way this Friday night as Argentina square off against arch-rivals Uruguay in the Clasico del Rio de la Plata at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Group B.
Argentina have developed into a tough unit to beat under the tutelage of Lionel Scaloni and are currently on a 14-game unbeaten streak – a run that dates back to 2019. However, La Albiceleste have failed to win each of their last three encounters, including their Copa America opener against Chile, which ended in a 1-1 draw, leaving them in the second spot in Group B, two points below leaders Paraguay.
Uruguay, meanwhile, will be kicking off their Copa America journey with their clash on Friday. Much like their opponents, Oscar Tabarez’s men are also not in the best of form heading into La Fiesta as they have failed to win each of their last three games (D2 L1), with their most recent game ending in a goalless draw against Venezuela in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers. A winning start, though, could put them in a solid position in Group B.
The last time Argentina and Uruguay faced off against each other was in November 2019 in a friendly encounter, which ended in a 2-2 draw. Heading into their upcoming contest, which will have a major say in how the Copa America Group B table shapes up, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
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Heading into their biggest test of the Group stages, Argentina are sweating over the fitness of winger Nicolas Gonzalez, who is said to be closing in on a transfer to Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion. The VfB Stuttgart ace is a doubt for the game due to a muscle strain and may miss out. Apart from that, Lionel Scaloni has no other concerns with regard to his roster.
Argentina should set up in a 4-3-3 formation on Friday night, with in-form Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez lining up between the sticks. He will be shielded by the centre-back partnership of Nicolas Otamendi and Cristian Romero, who is a transfer target for Liverpool and Manchester United. Gonzalo Montiel and Nicolas Tagliafico ought to be the two full-backs who will look to make surging forward runs when the team attacks.
In midfield, the onus of shielding the backline falls on the shoulders of Leandro Paredes, who has the ability to break up play and recycle possession quickly and effectively. He will be partnered with Udinese captain Rodrigo De Paul, who will essay the box-to-box role, while Giovani Lo Celso will be tasked with providing the creative essence for the Albiceleste.
Captain Lionel Messi, who scored a stunning free-kick in the game against Chile, will be the major threat in attack. Starting on the right-wing, he will constantly look to get into central areas and pull the strings in the final third to create openings for himself or his teammates. With Gonzalez a doubt, Angel Di Maria should step in on the left while Lautaro Martinez continues ahead of Sergio Aguero as the centre-forward.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Montiel, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Paredes, Lo Celso; Messi, Martinez, Di Maria
For Uruguay, the big news heading into their Copa America is the return to the squad of Manchester United’s veteran striker Edinson Cavani after having served his two-match suspension due to a red card he picked up in November last year. There is a call-up for Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo, who enjoyed a breakthrough season with the club while uncapped forward Brian Ocampo also gets picked in the roster.
Uruguay are expected to revert to their twin-striker system now that Cavani is available again, meaning Luis Suarez, coming on the back of a title-winning campaign, will line up alongside the Manchester United ace. The duo will rely on services coming from out wide through youngster Facundo Torres and Jonathan Rodriguez, who ought to line up on the right and left flanks respectively for La Celeste.
Lucas Torreira will be tasked with keeping a check on Argentina’s midfield runners, with the Arsenal man likely to be supported by Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde. Matias Vecino is also an option at the disposal of manager Oscar Tabarez in case he desires more experience in the middle of the park.
At the back, the centre-back partnership of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez picks itself. The duo ought to be flanked by Giovanni Gonzalez and Martin Caceres on the right and left sides, respectively. In goal, there is no looking past the ever-present figure of Fernando Muslera.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Muslera; Gonzalez, Gimenez, Godin, Caceres; Torres, Valverde, Torreira, Rodriguez; Cavani, Suarez
- This will be the 190th time that Argentina and Uruguay are taking on each other. Of the previous 189 encounters, the former has won 87 while the latter has picked up 57 victories (D45).
- Uruguay have failed to win each of their last four clashes against Argentina (D2 L2). La Celeste also failed to find the back of the net in three of those games.
- Argentina have not lost any of their last 14 matches, although they have picked up victories in just 50% of those encounters, failing to win each of their last three.
Player to Watch
While there is plenty of star quality on display with the likes of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Lautaro Martinez, all eyes invariably will be on one man and one man only – Lionel Messi. The Argentine captain is yet to win a major silverware with the national team and issued a rallying cry to his teammates to give it their everything in an attempt to go all the way.
Having started the tournament in fine fashion, at least on a personal note, with his stunning free-kick against Chile, Messi will now be hoping to get one over his close friend Luis Suarez and, in the process, take Argentina a step closer towards the knockout stages of the Copa America 2021.
Argentina 1-1 Uruguay
Neither team has been in the best form coming into the game and has played out a series of draws in their recent fixtures. That trend may continue on Friday night as well, given that both Argentina and Uruguay will be keen on avoiding a defeat in what is their toughest group fixture, at least on paper. That is why The Hard Tackle predicts a cagey affair in Brasilia that ends in a 1-1 draw.