Uruguay and Paraguay will trade tackles in their final Copa America 2021 group stage fixture at the Estadio Olimpico Nilton Santos on Tuesday night.
Seeking their first Copa America triumph since 2011, the Uruguayans are glad to have welcomed Edinson Cavani back to the squad against Bolivia last time out.
The talismanic Manchester United marksman will be looking to continue his impressive international form against a Paraguay side that chase their first continental success since 1979.
CONMEBOL’s smallest nation by population ensured progression into the Copa America knock-outs for the second tournament in a row with a 2-0 win over minnows Bolivia.
Before beating CONMEBOL’s worst-ranked nation, Uruguay had gone winless in their opening two Copa America group stage matches (D1, L1), trailing 1-0 at half-time on each occasion.
After halting a frustrating five-match winless streak with the abovementioned victory over Bolivia (D3, L2), the Uruguayans are looking to post back-to-back wins for the first time since June 2019.
Although La Celeste remain Copa America’s most successful team with 15 triumphs, they last won two consecutive group stage games at the tournament in 1995.
Uruguay must at least avoid defeat against Paraguay in Rio de Janeiro to avoid the prospect of facing Copa America hosts Brazil in the quarter-finals.
Despite their recent poor form, Oscar Tabarez’s men can still find some comfort in scoring twice in a row after drawing a blank in four straight internationals beforehand.
After missing out on his team’s opening two group stage fixtures, Cavani returned to the scoresheet against Bolivia, proving to be Uruguay’s talisman once again.
Tabarez’s men have won each of their last seven games in all competitions when the 34-year-old striker found the net.
His partner in crime, Luis Suarez, has scored once too, though he has been involved in every minute of Copa America action played so far.
The Paraguayans have alternated between winning and losing across their opening three group stage games (W2, L1), with each match seeing the opener scored within 33 minutes of play.
Both of Paraguay’s Copa America victories this summer have yielded a two-goal winning margin and saw them score at least one second-half goal.
Paraguay’s flying start to the Copa America 2021 marks a massive turnaround from their pre-competition form, where they had returned just two wins from 41 outings in all competitions.
Los Guaranies’ pursuit of their first top-place finish in the Copa America group stage since 2004 requires them to better Argentina’s result against Bolivia.
Although that seems to be a long shot, Eduardo Berizzo’s men still have to focus on opening the game strongly after conceding the opener within 15 minutes in three of their last four internationals.
Following a mediocre season at West Ham United, centre-back Fabian Balbuena has lost his place in Paraguay’s starting XI, spending all three group stage games on the bench so far.
However, another Premier League star has had a prominent role in the Paraguayans’ impressive group stage journey.
After ending an eight-match goal drought for the national team against Chile last time out, Newcastle United’s Miguel Almiron entertains the prospect of scoring in back-to-back internationals for the first time.
Interestingly, each of Almiron’s 13 goals for club and country since the turn of 2020 has come by the hour mark.
Uruguay vs Paraguay Head-to-Head
Before being held to a goalless draw in their World Cup qualifier back in April, Uruguay had won back-to-back matches against Paraguay by an aggregate score of 6-1.
The Uruguayans are unbeaten in their last eight meetings with this opposition (W4, D4) since suffering a 1-0 loss in a World Cup qualifier back in October 2007.
Low scoring could be a theme in Rio, considering four of the last six games between these two teams have featured under 2.5 total goals.
Uruguay vs Paraguay Predicted Line-ups
Uruguay (4-3-1-2): Fernando Muslera; Martin Caceres, Jose Gimenez, Diego Godin, Matias Vina; Federico Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur, Nahitan Nandez; Giorgian De Arrascaeta; Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani.
Paraguay (4-4-2): Antony Silva; Alberto Espinola, Gustavo Gomez, Junior Alonso, David Martinez; Braian Samudio, Mathias Villasanti, Angel Cardozo Lucena, Santiago Arzamendia; Miguel Almiron, Angel Romero.