Uruguay v Saudi Arabia preview
Uruguay will turn to experience as they look to secure victory against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and book their place in the last 16 of the World Cup (3pm)
The South American side are set to field a side containing seven players aged 31 or over in their Group A clash in Rostov-on-Don.
Cristian Rodriguez, 32, and Carlos Sanchez, 33, both came off the bench in Uruguay’s 1-0 opening win over Egypt, and head coach Oscar Tabarez will now give them the chance to start.
“It’s not about being young or experienced it’s due to the needs of the team for this game, and according to my information this is the line-up which will best suit us,” said Tabarez.
Rodriguez will make his 107th appearance for Uruguay on Wednesday while striker Luis Suarez will rack up a century of appearances for the national team and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera will reach 99 games.
Muslera will also tie Ladislao Mazurkiewicz as the player to have made the most appearances for Uruguay at a World Cup.
Tabarez’s preference for old hands Sanchez and Rodriguez, who play their football in Mexico and Uruguay respectively, may raise questions about the next generation of players in the squad, which is comprised of 10 players aged 30 or more, double the number that reached the semi-finals in 2010.
But the coach said his side’s wealth of experience was a strength.
“I have a lot of confidence in the team I’m going to put out tomorrow, they have a lot of experience,” added the 72-year-old, who has coached Uruguay since 2006.
“If I’ve learned one thing from being at the World Cup it’s that anything can happen.”
“In South Africa, we used all of our players apart from the reserve goalkeepers.”
“And just because I took some players off in the first game it doesn’t mean their tournament is over.”
Saudi Arabia were beaten 5-0 by Russia in their opening game.
They suffered a scare on Monday as there was reportedly a brief fire in one of the engines on the plane carrying the team.
But midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim said: “We forgot about it as soon as we got to the hotel.”
“Actually, both the first game and the plane incident are forgotten.”
Sanchez and Rodriguez are set to start for Uruguay while Saudi Arabia might make changes after their defeat to Russia.
This is the third encounter between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia and the first at a World Cup.
The Saudis are unbeaten in the two previous fixtures, both home friendlies (W1 D1).
This is Saudi Arabia’s 15th game at the World Cup but their first against a South American side.
Uruguay have won all three of their previous World Cup games against Asian opponents, scoring five and conceding just once (includes a 1970 victory against Israel, then part of the AFC).
Saudi Arabia have finished bottom of their group in their last three World Cup appearances, their best performance dating back to their opening tournament in 1994 (knocked out by Sweden in the round of 16).
Uruguay are looking to win their first two matches of a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1954.
Saudi Arabia have failed to score in eight of their last 10 World Cup games.
They didn’t have a single shot on target in their opener against Russia.
Saudi Arabia have conceded 14 headed goals at the World Cup since their debut in 1994, more than any other team over that period.
Uruguay have lost just one of their last nine World Cup group games (W5 D3), winning five of their last six.
Should Luis Suarez make an appearance in this game for Uruguay, he’ll win his 100th cap and become the sixth Uruguayan to reach this landmark.
J osé Giménez’s (89:01) strike versus Egypt was the latest winning goal by Uruguay in a World Cup game since Daniel Fonseca versus South Korea in 1990 (91:01).