La Celeste are back in action as the World Cup qualifiers return. In the upcoming set of fixtures, Uruguay face two direct rivals in Ecuador and Chile. First up – at the Estadio Centenario – are 3th placed Ecuador.
Uruguay – currently sitting in second position with 20 points – are experiencing a rather unusual qualifying campaign. At this point, they normally are battling to get in the Top-4, or even Top-5. This time around, along with Brazil, the Sky Blue of Uruguay look like the strongest team in South America.
Not doing so bad either, are Thursday’s opponents Ecuador. In hunt for a ticket to Russia, the side led by Gustavo Quinteros have been turning some heads. At the height of Quito they’ve been blowing teams away. However, it’s not only on home soil where La Tri get their points. Argentina know so as they were beaten 0-2 in Buenos Aires on matchday one.
Unfortunately for Ecuador, a total of nine players are missing out for the Uruguay clash with Enner Valencia, Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero being the most notable ones. Surely the absence of the latter two will be hard to take as both are fundamental to Ecuador’s very direct playing style.
Although not to the same extent as their opponents, Uruguay have injury woes of their own. With Edinson Cavani (injured and suspended) and Abel Hernández (injured), Oscar Tabárez misses two of his best strikers. Unlike Hernández, Cavani might be fit for the game vs. Chile on Tuesday. Against Ecuador, though, Tabárez’ options to partner Luis Suárez are limited to Diego Rolán and Cristhian Stuani
When Ecuador visit the Centenario, the points normally stay in Montevideo. However, recent meetings suggest that La Tri are more than capable of performing an upset as they picked up two draws in their last two visits.
In the past few years La Celeste might have had some difficulties with Ecuador, but looking at the all-time record Uruguay edge it comfortably. In a total of 46 matches, Uruguay grabbed all three points on 29 occasions. The other seventeen encounters were divided in eleven draws and six wins for Ecuador.
Also an encouraging statistic for the side captained by Diego Godín; Uruguay have never lost vs. Ecuador at the Estadio Centenario – eleven wins and three draws. Add to that Uruguay’s flawless home record in this qualifying campaign and an Ecuadorian upset that I proposed earlier, becomes less likely with the minute.
Both teams are in a good position after nine matchdays, but a slip up could prove costly as the margins between seventh and first are still small. Seeing Uruguay’s home record and taking Ecuador’s pool of absentees in mind, I predict a home win. Uruguay 2-0 Ecuador.
Written by David Kraakman