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Uruguay vs Russia
2018 FIFA World Cup Group A, 25th June
|Samara Arena, Samara Russia|
|6||Shots on target||1|
Improbable group toppers, Russia, take on history and 56 FIFA rankings against Uruguay in Samara on Tuesday morning, 12am (AEST). Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match.
This game decides top spot in Group A and both teams will be desperate to prove their mettle going into the knock-out stages. Both Russia and Uruguay are already through with wins over both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but with top spot on the line there is plenty to play for.
They take contrasting form into this match, despite both accumulating 6 points. Russia has been the story of the tournament so far. Their pounding of Saudi Arabia on the opening day (5-0) and canter against an Egypt team featuring Mo Salah (3-1) has defied the heavy criticism they faced before the tournament.
Russia have found stars in their forward third in playmaker Denis Cheryshev and gargantuan striker Artem Dzyuba who between them have scored 5 goals – more than 28 other entire teams in this tournament.
The secret to Russia’s success (a problematic phrase in recent years) seems to be their running power.
Russia collectively has logged an average of 116,000 metres per game so far, topping all charts.
Impressively this horse-power has come from sprinting (think Leckie not Messi). In their first game they sprinted 412 times – nearly 20 more sprints than second placed Croatia (Australia was third on that list).
The Russians are a swashbuckling team spurred by their home fans and have made their two opponents look second rate, especially in defence.
Uruguay, in contrast, entered the tournament with high expectations but has found the earth a little slower.
They have scrapped wins against the inferior Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but have barely broken out of second gear.
Their superstar front two of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani aren’t quite on the same wavelength, despite Cavani doing his best so far to step out of his team-mates shadow with excellent performances.
It is Suarez who hasn’t yet appeared at this tournament, despite snagging a tap-in in the Saudi match.
Defensively Uruguay is hard to break down and hasn’t yet conceded. Centre halves Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez – who are club team mates at Atletico Madrid – are rock solid.
With the right protection from their inexperienced central midfield, Uruguay is capable of shutting out teams with extreme prejudice.
Uruguay will believe they are a good performance away from harmonising and making a deep cup run. With other fancied teams faltering in this tournament, Uruguay should be eyeing off a semi or better.
Their fortress defensive shape and marquee forwards are all most countries need to take control of games. However, Russia has been running teams ragged and will expose Uruguay if they continue to be off-key.
Three poor Uruguayan efforts in a row seems the least likely scenario for this tie. If Uruguay is trampled in this game the recriminations back home will be intense.
And while Russia will be inspired to keep running in this game, they will find Uruguay’s defensive wall and their ability on the counter too much.
It should be low(ish) scoring, with Uruguay having enough weaponry to put goals past the Russians.