Uruguay vs Russia – Monday, June 25, 15:00BST/16:00CEST/17:00 MSK – Samara-Arena, Samara, Russia
Who will finish first and who will finish second in Group A? That question will be on the line when Uruguay and Russia face each other at the Samara Arena on Monday.
Both sides have six points, but Uruguay got there in minimalist fashion winning their two opening games 1-0 each. On both occasions, La Celeste only did what was necessary. Against Egypt, Uruguay got a late winner in the 89th minute, and against Egypt, it was Luis Suarez, who got the job done for them in the 23 minute.
Uruguay have often been criticised for their minimalist approach, but it is hard to argue with a strategy that gets the job done. Now on the final matchday of the group stage, they will face a Russia side that by most accounts has surprised the world.
Little to nothing was expected of the Sbornaya going into the tournament. Russia had not won in seven games and disappointed in most of the friendly matches. “Friendly matches are friendly matches, and the World Cup is the World Cup,” Artem Dzyuba told the media after the 3-1 victory against Egypt.
The hulking striker has a point of course. Translating friendlies into competitive fixtures is hard. But at the same time, Russia’s performances in the first two matches were impressive. The Sbornaya scored eight goals in the first two matches equalising the most goals scored by a home team record set by Italy in 1934.
Italy ended up winning the tournament. Whether Russia can copy that feat remains to be seen, however. What is remarkable is that Russian players seem to be in top fitness. Russian players have clocked a noteworthy amount of kilometres with the Sbornaya being able to outrun their opposition at will at times. That ability has worked wonders against both Egypt and Uruguay, who were run off the pitch. Uruguay will be now the first real test, and with first place on the line, it will be an important test at that.
Uruguay vs Russia – Players to look out for:
Luis Suárez #9 – Uruguay (Barcelona)
It will be interesting to see just how the forward response to what was a disappointing personal display against Egypt. Looking short on fitness and misfiring in front of goal on a number of occasions, the 31-year-old will undoubtedly want to get his tournament off the mark with regards to goals. The Barcelona star often drops deep to fulfil a playmaker role for the national side – with 12 assists in 33 Spanish La Liga games this season, Suárez showed he can be relied upon to provide as well as score.
Artem Dzyuba #22 – Russia (Arsenal Tula on loan from Zenit)
It is one of the greatest stories of the tournament. Sent into exile by his club coach Roberto Mancini last winter Dzyuba went on loan to Arsenal Tula. At that point, there seemed very little hope for the hulking striker that he could make the World Cup squad. But six goals in ten game for Arsenal meant he made the squad after all and a poor performance by an indisposed Fedor Smolov in the first match against Saudi Arabia meant that Dzyuba got his chance and he has not looked back since. He has now scored both in the opener and in the second match against Egypt taking back the starting position in the World Cup squad.
Uruguay vs Russia – Match Stats
- Uruguay’s only victory against Russia/Soviet Union came at the 1970 World Cup where La Celeste beat the Soviet Union 1-0 in extra-time.
- Including the defeat against Uruguay in 1970 Russia/Soviet Union have lost the last four matches against South American competition at the World Cup.
- Russia have scored more goals at this World Cup (eight) than in the last two tournaments combined (2002 and 2014 they combined for six).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Uruguay vs Russia – 2-2
Uruguay vs Russia – Lineups
Muslera – Caceres, Godin, Gimenez, Varela – Rodriguez, Vecino, Bentancur, Nandez – Cavani, Suarez.
Head Coach: Oscar Tabarez
Akinfeev – Zhirkov, Ignashevich, Kutepov, Mário Fernandes – Gazinskiy, Zobnin – Golovin, Cheryshev, Samedov – Dzyuba
Head Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.