Brazil vs. Uruguay, 2013 Confederations Cup semifinal: Preview

Clive Rose

The Confederations Cup's South American sides meet in the tournament's semifinal on Wednesday, with Brazil hot favorites to beat Uruguay and reach the final.

Tournament hosts Brazil have won all three of its Confederations Cup group games, beating Japan and Mexico without conceding, before Italy put up slightly more resistance, but still came up short. After a shaky start to his second spell as national coach, Brazil's Luiz Felipe Scolari appears to have his team on the right track.

Contrastingly, their semifinal opponents Uruguay have been much less convincing. They were totally dominated by Spain in their opening group game, despite only losing by a single goal. In their second match, they only just saw off Nigeria, before unsurprisingly thrashing Tahiti to progress to the knockout stages -- though it's extremely difficult to see them getting any further.

If Uruguay is to reach the final, it would have to beat a Brazil team on home soil for the first time since 1983. Of course, it's not impossible. Any team with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez in attack shouldn't be underestimated, no matter how difficult it has seemed for the duo to strike up an international partnership. But, with their defence stuttering and midfield devoid in real creativity, Neymar and co. should be able to work their magic and seal a victory for the Seleção.

Team news

For Brazil, David Luiz is able to return to center=back, despite coming off against Italy with a leg injury. Paulinho was left out of that game, though could replace Hernanes in central midfield again. That midfield adjustment has been the only inconsistency in Brazil's starting XIs so far this tournament, and Scolari probably won't make any changes now.

As for Uruguay, anything is possible when serial tinkerer Óscar Tabárez is in charge. He's already tried two different defensive formations so far this tournament, and it's anyone's guess as to how and with who he'll set La Celeste up here. One definite is Andrés Scotti is out suspended, having become the first player of the tournament to pick up a red card. However, at 37 years old, the center-back won't be missed.

Projected lineups (left to right)

Brazil (4-2-3-1): Júlio César; Marcelo, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves; Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho; Neymar, Oscar, Hulk; Fred

Uruguay (4-3-3): Fernando Muslera; Martín Cáceres, Diego Lugano, Diego Godín, Maxi Pereira; Egidio Arévalo, Walter Gargano, Álvaro González; Diego Forlán, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suárez

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Key matchups

Fred vs. the Uruguay centre-backs

Everyone in the world loves Uruguay’s captain and center-back Diego Lugano, though his decline over the last couple of seasons has been scary. Alongside Diego Godín he’ll try to roll back the years and contain Brazil’s striker Fred, whose sheer physicality has seen him star for Brazil thus far, scoring a couple himself as well as bringing his more creative teammates into play.

Brazil's left vs. Uruguay's right

Against Spain, Uruguay played so narrow down the right that it was totally overloaded down that flank, particularly with Jordi Alba venturing forward from left-back. With Marcelo similarly attack-minded and playing behind Neymar (who has managed to make his €57 million price tag look a bargain so far), Uruguay will have to watch this zone carefully.

Marcelo vs. Luis Suárez

Luis Suárez barely tracked back at all in Uruguay's win over Nigeria, staying high up the pitch on the right side, looking to exploit space vacated by the right-back on counter-attacks. Should he play the same against Marcelo, he'll probably find such space in behind -- though he clearly risks allowing the full-back to give Brazil an offensive advantage down the left.

Prediction

Brazil still has some work to do -- not appearing totally cohesive in midfield -- but really ought to have enough to overcome such an inconsistent Uruguay. 2-0 Brazil.

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