Uruguay will be aiming to book a place in the final four of the Copa America 2021 when they lock horns with Colombia in the quarter-final this weekend.
The summer of international football continues to deliver exciting match-ups one after the other as we are into the final stages of both the UEFA Euro 2020 and the Copa America 2021. On Saturday night, the remaining two quarter-final encounters of the South American football fiesta will be played out, with Uruguay kicking things off against Colombia at Estadio Mane Garrincha in Brasilia.
Uruguay did not make the most auspicious start to their Copa America campaign, losing 1-0 to Argentina before being held to a 1-1 draw by Chile. However, back-to-back wins over Bolivia (2-0) and Paraguay (1-0) in their final two Group A fixtures ensured that La Celeste ended second in the group standings with seven points.
Colombia, meanwhile, will consider themselves very lucky to have made it to the last-eight stages despite having won just one of their four group games. Indeed, after beating Ecuador 1-0 in their opening fixture, Los Cafeteros failed to pick up a single victory, being held to a goalless draw by Valencia before losing 2-1 to both Peru and Brazil. Nonetheless, they were able to secure a third-place finish in Group B to set up this contest.
The two teams clashed as recently as November 2020 in a World Cup qualifier, with Uruguay thrashing Colombia 3-0. A similar outcome could be on the cards on Saturday night if Reinaldo Rueda’s men don’t up their game after a disappointing group stage campaign. Ahead of this match-up coming our way from Brasilia, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Senior centre-back Diego Godin is expected to be fit and available after having been withdrawn at half-time in the game against Paraguay last time out. Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo, however, is a major doubt for the fixture. Apart from that, there are no other injury or fitness concerns for Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez heading into the crunch tie on Saturday.
La Celeste ought to line up in a 4-3-1-2 formation in front of the ever-present Fernando Muslera in goal after having fielded just one centre-forward last time out. Godin will pair up alongside former Atletico Madrid teammate Jose Maria Gimenez at the heart of the defence, with Sebastian Coates an option in case Godin is not ready to start. Leeds United target Nahitan Nandez and Matias Vina should be the two full-backs.
Matias Vecino will take up the deepest role in the centre of the park, from where he will look to dictate the tempo of the game. The hard-working duo of Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde will lend support to the Inter Milan midfielder in the defensive phases while also look to push forward and add numbers in attack when in possession.
Giorgian De Arrascaeta could line up in the No. 10 role from where he will look to create openings for the strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, with the latter returning to the lineup after being benched against Paraguay.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Muslera; Nandez, Gimenez, Godin, Vina; Bentancur, Vecino, Valverde; de Arrascaeta; Suarez, Cavani
Unlike their opponents, Colombia have no fitness issues ahead of the quarter-final clash, with manager Reinaldo Rueda able to pick from a full roster on Saturday night. The manager has shown an inclination towards setting his team up in a 4-4-2 formation early in his tenure and could stick to a similar shape against Uruguay, with the players instructed to stay compact and disciplined off the ball and look for counter-attacking chances.
Seasoned campaigner David Ospina will be manning the goal for Los Cafeteros against Uruguay, with the former Arsenal man set to be protected by the central defensive pairing of Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina, who will need to be at their best against the duo of Suarez and Cavani. Daniel Munoz should get the nod at right-back ahead of Stefan Medina while William Tesillo continues at left-back.
Moving into the middle of the park, the onus of keeping things tight and organised will fall on the shoulders of Wilmar Barrios, who will have able support from Mateus Uribe. The main attacking threat for Rueda’s side will come from the wide areas where Juan Cuadrado and Luis Diaz, who scored a stunner against Brazil, will pose problems with their pace and crossing.
Finally, the Atalanta strike partnership of Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel should start at the top, with the likes of Rafael Borre and Miguel Borja being options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Ospina; Munoz, Mina, Sanchez, Tesillo; Cuadrado, Uribe, Barrios, Diaz; Zapata, Muriel
- This will be the 43rd meeting between Uruguay and Colombia. of the previous 42, La Celeste have won 20 while Los Cafeteros have come out on top 13 times, with nine contests ending in a draw.
- Uruguay are unbeaten in their last three matches against Colombia, winning two of those (D1). They have kept a clean sheet in each of the two wins.
- Since being named the manager of Colombia earlier this year, Reinaldo Rueda has overseen six games, winning, drawing and losing two fixtures each.
Player to Watch
With Uruguay hoping to make it through to the semi-finals of the Copa America 2021, their hopes will largely be resting on their strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. The latter, in particular, will be key for La Celeste after having played a key role in their previous two wins over Bolivia and Paraguay.
Indeed, the 34-year-old veteran forward scored the all-important second goal to kill the game off against Bolivia, while he scored the only goal of the game against Paraguay from the penalty spot to bag a win for his side and lead them through to the quarter-finals. Oscar Tabarez & co. will be hoping that the Manchester United superstar is able to carry his goalscoring form forward and lead Uruguay all the way through.
Uruguay 1-0 Colombia
Uruguay haven’t exactly hit top gear in the Copa America 2021 but have shown their usual resilience and toughness to get out of a sticky spot and make it to the knockout phase. As for Colombia, they have been quite poor until this point in the tournament, especially going forward. A tight game with few chances could be on offer on Saturday night, with Uruguay edging out a narrow win, with form and momentum on their side.