With both sides safely through to the next round, the only incentive is to finish top of the pile!
The hosts, and the 2011 Copa America winners, started off their campaigns with a 5-0 demolishing of Saudi Arabia, and a last gasp win over Egypt. They then sealed their qualification with comprehensive 3-1, and 1-0 wins over Egypt, and Saudi Arabia respectively.
Russia currently sit top, by virtue of goal difference, having scored more goal than their counterparts (8-2).
With everything riding on this game, an opportunity to face either Portugal, or Spain (or Iran – but that’s unlikely) will be an exciting prospect!
For Uruguay to finish top, they must win, any other result will not do! As for Russia, a win will be a bonus, but a draw won’t be the worst result as that’ll mean they still finish top due to their vastly superior goal difference.
This’ll be their first meeting since a 1-1 draw in Moscow in May 2012. On that occasion, Luis Suarez scored three minutes into the second half before Russia equalised immediately after through Aleksandr Kerzhakov (retired 2015).
Russia will come up against attacking threat in the form of Suarez, and Edinson Cavani, so their defence will have to be tight if they’re to beat the South American side to top spot.
I highly doubt both sides would field second-string sides, especially given what’s at stake.
There seemed to be clue as to who who would start in midfield for Uruguay, with that being Lucas Torreira – who has heavily been linked with a move to Arsenal. Who else would coach Oscar Tabarez bring in?
Jose Giminez has been left of this encounter, having suffered a right quadriceps, so Sebastian Coates is expected to take his place in defence.
As for Russia, Yuri Zhirkov could be a doubt even though he featured in the win over Egypt. Team doctor Eduard Bezuglov mentioned Zhirkov had a foot tendon injury, and steps were taken to ensure the correct recovery procedures.
Bezuglov went on to mention that Zhirkovs injury is less severe than Mohamed Salahs, and how the Egyptian went on to recovers, and believe similar will happen with Zhirkov.
With Russia being rather goal happy, they’d be favourites on paper, but they come up against a defensive Uruguay side who slow the game down, and that was shown in their previous two matches.
With Russias goals versus Uruguays defence, its a difficult one to tell. I’m going for Uruguay to take the spoils!