Teams: Brazil v Uruguay
Date: 26 June 2013
Venue: Estadio Mineirao
South American champions Uruguay take on hosts Brazil in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup tonight, in an all-Latin showdown in Belo Horizonte.
Brazil may be their continent’s most populous nation, while Uruguay are miniscule by comparison, but their football rivalry runs deep, and it is never easy to predict an outright winner when the two teams clash.
Brazil should start as favourites tonight. They have reached the last-four unbeaten, showing glimpses of sensational samba football along the way.
Neymar has been irrepressible, inspired by the social tumult surrounding the tournament. And with 100 000 protestors expected to hit the Brazilian streets again today, perhaps Neymar will once again be swept along to perform feats of greatness.
Uruguay meanwhile, lost to world champions Spain en-route to the semi-finals, and will feel as if they have nothing to lose or fear against the Selecao. After all, they have been an historical bête noir for Brazil since winning the 1950 World Cup final against the Samba Kings at the Maracana, causing generations of Brazilian mourning.
Brazil’s best moments at the Confed Cup have come from their alternatively artistic and destructive midfield, and their sizzling front line.
But if they have a weakness, it is their potentially clumsy defence, which has been known to lose concentration while their comrades up the field seek a dazzling path goalward.
In their eye-catching attacking trio of Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavini, Uruguay have the tools to exploit Brazil’s frailties. And it will be interesting to see if manager Oscar Tabarez is brave enough to field a three-man attack like he did against Nigeria, at the risk of leaving gaps for Neymar and co to slip into.
Ahead of the game, Uruguay skipper Diego Lugano is full of fighting talk.
“We’re looking on this game as a big opportunity against a Brazil side that has obviously got everything in its favour. This is not the first time that’s been the situation, though, and we’ve beaten them before. There’s no reason why we can’t do it again” he told fifa.com.
“It’s going to be very, very intense. Both teams will be putting it all on the line and they’ve both got match-winners in midfield and attack. It’s going to be a really great game and very evenly balanced. We’re preparing for it and we’re dreaming of beating them again.”
Brazil meanwhile, are confident of booking their place in the Confed Cup final.
Coach ‘Big Phil’ Scolari says that the world has been shocked by how strong his team has proved, and that they “are earning back the history of Brazil.”
"We know the managers of the other teams have always respected us because Brazil has always been a great team. But maybe they weren't 100% sure we would be strong this time," Scolari added.
"Uruguay have so many good players but they probably fear our players as much as we fear theirs."
Which South American giant will book their place in the Confed Cup final tonight, Brazil or Uruguay?