After their latest win, Uruguay will host Ecuador in Montevideo on Thursday to consolidate their Football World Cup qualification. La Celeste edged Bolivia on Sunday to move to within a point of Thursday’s visitors, who had to settle for third place in their qualifying group with a 0-0 draw against Chile.
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While Uruguay got off to a relatively impressive start in Football World Cup qualifying with a 2-1 win over Chile and a 3-0 win over Colombia, a 4-2 win over Ecuador was followed by a 2-0 loss to Brazil and disappointing draws with Paraguay and Venezuela at this summer’s Copa AméricaOscar Tabarez’s team then struggled at the Continental Championship, finishing second after losing only to Bolivia and Paraguay in the group stage.
The Celeste then played out a goalless draw against Colombia in the quarterfinals but lost on penalties to be eliminated in the first knockout round. In their return to qualifying in September, Uruguay continued to struggle with their form and had to settle for a point against Peru. Giorgio de Alascata equalized on the half-hour mark after Renato Tapia had opened the scoring for the opposition.
Tabarez’s eleven certainly showed positive signs in their 4-2 win over Bolivia, however, as da Alascata was again in top form, scoring twice alongside Federico Valverde and Agustín Alvarez, while Marcelo Moreno scored twice for Cape Verde, including a late consolation goal. The win established them in the top flight, and Cape Verde will be looking for a second straight win to extend their lead over their rivals, who beat them 4-2 earlier in the season.
After losing 1-0 to Argentina in their opening match of last year’s qualifying round, Ecuador bounced back impressively with goals from Michael Estrada, Moises Caicedo, and Gonzalo Plata to earn victory over Thursday’s opponents. After a 3-2 away win over Bolivia and a 6-1 loss to Colombia, the team lost to Brazil and Peru in the Copa América, dashing their hopes of qualifying for the Football World Cup. For more details about Football World Cup Tickets.
Despite failing to win the continental competition, Eduardo picked up three points from their four group games, including an impressive 1-1 draw with tournament favorites Brazil, but was beaten 3-0 by eventual winners Argentina in the Round of 16. The Equipe Tricolore returned to winning ways in qualifying, with late goals from Felix Torres and Michael Estrada earning a 2-0 home victory over Paraguay.
In their last tournament, the team followed up that performance with a goalless draw against Chile to maintain third place after picking up an impressive 13 points from their first eight games. With the top four automatically qualifying for next year’s Football World Cup, Gustavo Alfaro is desperate for his side to achieve a positive result to fend off the chasing pack and reach the tournament in Qatar after missing out on qualification for Russia 2018.
Uruguay will have to do without their star strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the all-time leading scorer and second-leading scorer respectively, in this round and will once again go into the final without their stars from Atletico Madrid and Manchester United.
In their absence, Agustín Alvarez and Maxi Gómez made a splash in attack, while Giorgio de Alascata put in an impressive performance with three goals in two games. Although he was most recently replaced by Ronald Araujo in the second half, Tabarez should again rely on experienced center-back Diego Godin and his former Atletico Madrid teammate Jose Gimenez, who have combined for 217 appearances for Ecuador.
Ecuador will have to do without winger Junior Sornoza on Thursday, who is suspended after being sent off in the goalless draw against Chile. First-choice goalkeeper Hernan Galindez, who did not travel to Uruguay after his latest injury, and key midfielder Jhegson Mendez are also out.
Enter Valencia will once again top the scoring charts, looking to overtake Agustin Delgado in the country’s all-time goals list with his 32nd international goal. Angel Mena should again play a key role up front, while Gonzalo Plata and Michael Estrada will battle to replace Solnosa.
Uruguay’s likely starting lineup
Muslera; Nandes, Godin, Gimenez, Picores; Valverde, Bentancur, Vecino; De Arrasgata, Alvarez, Rodriguez.
Ecuador’s probable starting lineup
Estupinan; Cifuentes, Gruezo, Caicedo; Plata, Mena, Valencia, Ortiz; Torres, Hincapie, Hurtado.
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