Match Preview – Uruguay vs Japan

Uruguay will look to book their place in the Copa America Quarter Finals when they take on Japan in Belo Horizonte this evening.

La Celeste elegantly started their tournament with a 4-0 mauling of Ecuador in their first game to put Uruguay at top of many people’s favourites list.

They will be keen to build on that and continue their excellent run of form when they take on guest nation Japan in this game.

A win would secure progression to the Quarter Finals and give Uruguay hope that this is a tournament they can go on to win.

With third place also up for grabs in Group C, though, Japan will be keen to ensure that they put up a fight as they look to progress themselves.

Team News

Uruguay will be without midfield Matias Vecino after he was injured in their opening game and subsequently ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

That leaves Oscar Tabarez with something of a midfield issue, although Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira should replace Vecino in midfield.

Aside from that, his selection is likely to remain close, if not precisely the same, to the one that started against Ecuador.

Japan, meanwhile, are likely to continue experimenting with their side for this game after bringing an experimental squad to the tournament.

16 uncapped players featured in their squad for the loss to Chile. That defeat could spell wholesale changes to the team, making a team prediction something of a nightmare.

What the managers said

Uruguay v Russia: Group A - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
SAMARA, RUSSIA – JUNE 25: Oscar Tabarez, Head coach of Uruguay. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Oscar Tabarez spent this week refusing to name Uruguay as favourites for this competition.

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“We want to move onto the next phase and if possible progress further, but everything depends on the next match,” he said.

“We’re not looking beyond that. They (Japan) have players who are fast and resistant. It will be a difficult game, and they are a team that we have to respect.”

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu, meanwhile, was focused on his team keeping the star forwards in the Uruguay side at bay.

“We have to continue defending this strong attack,” he said.

“I am sure there will be a lot of pressure, but our job will be how much we will defend ourselves and give the game agility and speed, I hope we can have a good game to keep their forwards at bay.”

Stats

Uruguay have won four of the last seven meetings between these two sides but lost the previous meeting.

In fact, Japan were on a run of four games without a win against La Celeste before that 4-3 victory in 2018.

It’s two different tales for these sides defensively. While Uruguay are yet to concede a goal in 2019, keeping a clean sheet in their last four, Japan are yet to stop an opponent scoring.

At the other end, Uruguay have averaged two goals a game in their last seven, with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez in fine form.

Japan, meanwhile, are averaging 0.67 goals per game and heavily reliant on former Leicester City man Shinji Okazaki for their goals.

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