Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
Uruguay v Chile | Wednesday 17 November | Estadio Centenario, Montevideo | 00:45
The sides last met in the Copa America this June in a heated affair which saw Chile win 1-0, and Jara Isla and Edison Cavani get better equated. Cavani was suspended for Uruguay’s World Cup qualifying fixtures against Bolivia and Colombia while Isla was banned from the remainder of Chile’s Copa America campaign. Given the recent history, and with Uruguay only a single point off Chile on the log, this game is likely to be another heated affair.
To Win Match
Uruguay got their qualifying campaign off to a solid start defeating Bolivia 2-0. They followed that up with a 3-0 victory over Bolivia but were brought back down to earth last week when they went down to Ecuador. While the loss takes some of the gloss off La Celeste's great start, they will still be pleased with the points haul they’ve managed to accrue, especially considering they were missing their two key attackers.
As I mentioned in the introduction, Edison Cavani has spent the majority of the qualifying campaign on the sidelines. He returned to the starting eleven against Ecuador and immediately made an impact, grabbing his side’s only goal in the match. A further hindrance for the Uruguayans has been the absence of Luis Suarez. The Barcelona hitman is still serving an international suspension that is only set to end in 2016.
While Cavani’s return will greatly enhance Uruguay’s chances of returning to the top of the CONMEBOL qualifying standings, it has been slightly offset by the news that Alvaro Gonzalez may miss this fixture. The midfielder had to pull out of a training session last Saturday and now faces a race against time to prove his fitness.
The Chileans got their qualifying campaign off to a flyer, winning two games and drawing one. They currently occupy second place on the table and are only two points behind log leaders Ecuador, who take on Venezuela this week.
A lot of the plaudits for Chile’s terrific start must go to the attacking duo of Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas. The auxiliary wingers both got on the scoresheet in Chile’s victory over Brazil. However, there are some concerns over Sanchez. His club manager, Arsene Wenger, has voiced his worries over Sanchez's ability to cope with a heavy fixture list. The former Barcelona man hasn’t really had a break from football since last year’s World Cup. This heavy schedule coupled with the winger's relentless work rate means he could well burn out before the close of the year. Thankfully, though, his national coach has seen sense and has given Sanchez a few training sessions off this week.
Whilst I wouldn’t be as bold as to declare Vargas a world class player, Sanchez and Arturo Vidal certainly are. Vidal has been the other key cog in the well-oiled machine that is the Chilean national football team. His ability to convert defence into attack is one of the main reasons why Sanchez and Vargas have flourished. The Bayern Munich midfielder is an illustration of just how much football has evolved in recent times. The big man does not simply sit in front of the back four and provide a shield, like holding midfielders of the past. He’s all action. Making tackles at the top of the pitch, carrying the ball through the lines, and he still manages to shield his back four with aplomb.
If Vidal can assert his dominance in the midfield then it’s going to be a long and arduous night for the Uruguayans in front of their home fans.
Verdict: Chile 41/20
I’m backing the triumvirate of Sanchez, Vargas and Vidal to lead Chile to victory. Back the away team at 41/20.
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