epa06809804 Tarek Hamed of Egypt (C) and Matias Vecino of Uruguay in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Egypt and Uruguay in Ekaterinburg, Russia, 15 June 2018.
Tuesday Jun 19, 2018. 12:00
Uruguay will chase a second win in Group A of the 2018 World Cup when they face Saudi Arabia at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don on Wednesday, kick-off at 17h00 CAT.
Uruguay opened their campaign in Russia with a narrow 1-0 win over Egypt last Friday in Yekaterinburg, with Jose Gimenez’s late goal securing three points to see the South Americans level with the host nation at the top of the pool.
Coach Oscar Tabarez will be delighted with the result, which was recorded despite an underwhelming showing in attack.
‘La Celeste’ will hope forwards Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani show more hunger for goals, though to be fair they came up against a resilient and well-organised Pharaohs defence.
The same cannot be said for Saudi Arabia’s backline, which conceded five times in their heavy defeat to Russia in the tournament’s opening match in Moscow last week.
Juan Antonio Pizzi will surely make wholesale changes to a ‘Green Falcons’ team which barely threatened the hosts through 90 minutes. Prolific striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi will need better service if he is to live up to the reputation he established in qualifying.
Yet regardless of how the Asian side sets out, it’s hard to see them really challenging Uruguay, who on paper are comfortably the strongest team in this group and will likely secure qualification for the last 16 by claiming three points in this game.
In head-to-head terms, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia have met in two previous matches according to FIFA’s statistics database. Surprisingly enough, the ‘Green Falcons’ boast an unbeaten record, beating ‘La Celeste’ 3-2 in a friendly in 2002, before a 1-1 draw in Jeddah in October 2014 – the teams’ most recent clash.
Uruguay v Saudi Arabia – head-to-head
Matches played 2
Uruguay wins 0
Saudi Arabia wins 1
Uruguay goals 3
Saudi Arabia goals 4