The set of World Cup qualifiers that Oscar Tabárez ranked as more important than last summer’s Copa América has started with a loss. A deflected Messi goal gave Argentina the lead. A lead that remained intact.

Uruguay fielded a 4-1-4-1 formation with Edinson Cavani playing as a left midfielder. It was a line-up that from minute one invited pressure. Good defending — as we can always rely on with Godín and Giménez — kept it tight at the back. However, while the first half progressed an Argentina goal seemed inevitable. Because of the gap between Suárez and the midfield, Uruguay couldn’t get a string of passes together. The incapability of retaining possession ultimately paid it’s price when Messi opened the score in the 43rd minute. Three minutes later, Uruguay were lent a helping hand, though, as Paulo Dybala was sent off for Argentina after receiving his second yellow card.

messi lodeiroThe numerical advantage led Oscar Tabárez to switch to 4-4-2 in the second half with Cavani playing as a second striker to Suárez. However, for great parts of the last 45 minutes, it didn’t seem that Argentina were one man down as they enjoyed much of the possession. Around the 70 minute mark, Uruguay began to take control of the game for the first time, trying to force an equalizer. When Gastón Ramírez came on he made a great impact with good supply into Suárez and Cavani and he maintained possession quite well — something Mathías Corujo wasn’t capable of doing once in the whole game. Eventually, it didn’t matter as no real chances were created by Uruguay and Argentina held on to their one-goal advantage.

The result hasn’t got catastrophic consequences as Uruguay drop from first to second. Something that does concern, is the way Tabárez set up the team in the first half. A ‘doble cinco’ of Arévalo Rios and Corujo in the second half didn’t work either. The injured Matías Vecino would’ve been a great alternative in that position.

suarez mascheUruguay will now return to Montevideo to prepare themselves for Paraguay, which won’t be an easy clash by any means as La Albirroja have built up some momentum with an important win over Chile last night. It reduced the gap between Paraguay and Uruguay to just one point. However, Uruguay playing at the Estadio Centenario should be confident, taking in consideration that they haven’t lost a World Cup qualifier at home since 2009.

Written by David Kraakman