World Cup Qualifier: Uruguay v Argentina Preview

Two soccer players chasing the ball down in the big box

Our expert football writer previews the 2018 CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier between Uruguay and Argentina, which kicks off on Friday the 1st of September 2017. 

We take an early-season break from domestic league football for a week of World Cup Qualifiers. The COMNEBOL (South American) qualification group looks very interesting at the moment, with Brazil having already secured passage to Russia next year.

With just four rounds of matches left before it’s all said and done, there are still seven teams who can still realistically qualify. Here we’ll take a look at the pick of the round’s action, which will see Uruguay welcome red-hot Argentina to Estadio Centenario Montevideo.

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Uruguay vs Argentina | Friday 1 September 2017 | Estadio Centenario, Montevideo | 01:00

To Win Match

Uruguay 9/4 | Draw 23/10 | Argentina 12/10

The Uruguayans can count their lucky stars they got off to a good start in the qualifying campaign with wins against Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile Peru, Paraguay, and Venezuela, as well as a credible come-from-behind-draw against Brazil in Recife.

The side have managed to hang on to third spot – and an automatic qualification place – thanks to their excellent early run. As of late, however, heavy defeats at the hands of Chile (3-1) and Brazil (4-1) and a surprise 2-1 loss against Peru have eaten away at the cushion they enjoyed in November last year.

To make things worse for Óscar Tabárez, he’ll have to deal with the threat of Argentina without Luis Suarez. The Barcelona man is currently sidelined with a knee injury and has no chance of playing against Argentina. There is a slither light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, though, as he could be back for the clash against Paraguay on 5 September.

Recent form hasn’t been kind to fans of La Celeste. They’ve lost each of their last five matches – three World Cup Qualifiers and two friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Italy. While Tabárez didn’t field his strongest side possible in those two defeats, he would have definitely expected a better showing – especially against the Republic of Ireland.

The home fans will be hoping that Edinson Cavani brings his shooting boots against what will be a very good Argentinian side. The PSG hitman tops the scoring charts in the COMNEBOL qualification with nine goals from 14 games.

He’ll look to use his size to bully the likes of Jonathan Maidana, Gabriel Mercado and Nicolas Otamendi. The PSG man is quite happy to feed off of scraps for 80 minutes before popping up with a decisive goal, be it through sheer individual brilliance or via a bundled effort from two yards out. Either way, the big man will hold the key to any hopes the hosts have of winning on Friday.

Argentina have hit form at just the right time. A torrid start to their qualification campaign saw them take just two points from their opening three matches. Things have since improved in spells, however, dropped points against sides like Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela means that they only occupy fifth spot on the COMNEBOL standings.

Fifth place is only good enough for an inter-confederation play-off against one of the teams in the OFC section of qualifying. While they’ll be confident of beating either New Zealand or the Solomon Islands, it’s a step that Jorge Sampaoli would much rather avoid.

The Argentines have one of the best attacks in world football at the moment. Paulo Dybala, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria will look to take advantage of the fact that the Uruguayans will be low on confidence.

Despite all of their attacking riches, they’ve struggled to come by goals in COMNEBOL qualification this term. They’ve only managed 15 goals in 14 games and will come up against a defence which has only conceded 17 times and is marshaled by the world class Diego Godin.

Verdict: Argentina Win 12/10

Push has very much come to shove for World Cup 2014’s beaten finalists. A loss against Uruguay could prove absolutely disastrous, something that Messi and co simply will not let happen. Back the away side to silence to boo boys in Montevideo at 12/10.

Written by Jason Dewey for Hollywoodbets

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