Uruguay will look to kick off their Copa America campaign with a winning start when they take on Ecuador in the first game of Group C at Estadio Mineirao.
La Celeste is the outside favorites to win the tournament, considering their squad and history. No team has won the competition more than Uruguay, earning it a record 15 times, with the most recent one in 2011.
Further, they would look to better their performances when compared to how they fared the last time Brazil hosted the Copa, back in 1989. Uruguay lost the final to Brazil to finish second then and would look to go the extra step this time around.Embed from Getty Images
However, Oscar Tabarez’s men would first prefer to focus on the group stage, considering they did not make it to the knockouts last time in 2016. Their group consists of Japan and reigning champions Chile, the latter winning the previous two editions of the tournament.
Thus, Luis Suarez and his team-mates have their task cut out, but they will be expected to get out of the group stage this time around.
The situation is dire for their opponents as Ecuador come into the tournament with poor form and low expectations. La Tricolor had never won the championship, with their best performance coming in 1959, when they finished fourth.Embed from Getty Images
Thus, not much is expected from Hernan Dario Gomez’s side. However, they would like to play with freedom and cause an upset or two.
In terms of team news, Tabarez will very likely start veteran superstars Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front, despite neither of them starting a match for Uruguay in 2019. This will be tough on Maxi Gomez and Cristhian Stuani, who has done well for La Celeste this year.Embed from Getty Images
Arsenal star Lucas Torreira could find himself on the bench as Tabarez looks to pick a team that brings the best out of his 2 star forwards.
Meanwhile, Gomez’s side does not have the same level of superstars, but Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia and former West Ham forward Enner Valencia add a touch of extra quality.
Head-To-Head and Uruguay vs Ecuador Prediction
Coming to head-to-head, Uruguay is head and shoulders above their opponents. They have won 15 and lost 6 in the last 31 meetings between the sides. However, Ecuador has won 2 of their last three recent meetings and will look to take inspiration from those results.
Further, neither team has scored more than two goals in the last 11 meetings, highlighting how close the contests were. Nevertheless, Uruguay is in superb form, winning their previous three games, scoring ten goals in total and conceding none.
On the other hand, Ecuador lost 2 and drew 2 of their last four games and are in mixed form heading into the clash. La Tricolor have scored just a single first-half goal in their previous nine games, a penalty against Jamaica back in September.
Thus, quality, form and head-to-head all point to Uruguay picking up a win in their hunt for a 16th Copa America crown.
Predicted Uruguay XI: Muslera; Caceres, Godin, Jimenez, Laxalt; Nandez, Bentancur, Vecino, Lodeiro; Cavani, Suarez
Predicted Ecuador XI: Banguera; Quintero, Arboleda, Achilier, Caicedo; Gruezo, Orejuela, Intriago; Antonio Valencia, Ibarra, Enner Valencia