Uruguay vs. Tahiti: Complete Confederations Cup Preview, Prediction
The final matches of the Confederations Cup's Group B are soon upon us, with one of the teams still fighting for a place in the semifinals hoping to progress with victory.
Spain have booked their place in the next round, while Tahiti are out, but the Pacific islanders still have pride to play for, and a surprise against Uruguay could end the South Americans' time in the competition.
The Celeste recovered in fine fashion from opening day defeat against Spain. Goals from Diego Lugano and Diego Forlan helped Oscar Tabarez's men to a 2-1 win over Nigeria, whose only strike came courtesy of John Obi Mikel. The key for Uruguay was Forlan, who added this sterling goal to put his side clear and just one step away from the last four:
On the other side, Tahiti are reeling from a bruising but not entirely unexpected loss to the European and world champions. Spain recorded their third-biggest win in history with a 10-0 destruction of the Oceania representatives, who have conceded a staggering 16 goals in their two matches so far.
All indications point to a comfortable triumph for Uruguay, who will go through should they beat Tahiti and Nigeria fail to overcome Spain.
If the Super Eagles upset the odds with three points, the qualifier will be decided through goal difference, meaning there is no room for complacency for a Celeste team which may need to win big.
When: Sunday, June 23 at 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET
Where: Itaipava Arena Pernambucano, Recife, Pernambucano
After a wretched 2012-13 season with regards to World Cup qualifying, the South Americans have shown some improvements in recent months. Their qualifying record for the last 12 months reveals a disappointing five defeats and two draws, which have put Uruguay's place in Brazil 2014 in serious jeopardy.
Consecutive wins over France and Venezuela, however, have brought a new optimism to the Celeste, and they currently occupy the final playoff position in the South American competition.
Tahiti, meanwhile, come off the backs of heavy defeats against Nigeria and Spain, which demonstrate the gulf in class between this amateur side and their rivals on the world stage. Prior to the Confederations Cup, the Islanders had won one of their two fixtures in 2013 (against the Solomon Islands) and went down to New Zealand. But a perfect five wins during the 2012 OFC Championships assured the nation their very first title in the competition.
Players to Watch
Edinson Cavani, Uruguay
While Luis Suarez netted against Spain and Forlan inspired Uruguay to victory over Nigeria, the Napoli forward has so far endured an extremely disappointing tournament. His misfortune was summed up on Thursday with two glorious missed chances, which kept the South Americans sweating to the very end as Nigeria tried to get back into the game.
Nevertheless, Cavani remains a forward of the very highest quality. 38 goals in 43 appearances for Napoli in 2012-13 tell their own story, and while his record for Uruguay is not quite as impressive, he is still a key part of Oscar Tabarez's attack.
Mikael Roche, Tahiti
If there is one player in the Tahiti team almost guaranteed to see action, it is the goalkeeper. Xavier Samin's calamitous performance during a 6-1 defeat to Nigeria prompted the Oceania side to throw Roche into action, but he had a Confederations Cup debut to forget, as Spain poured in goals.
If Roche keeps his place for the Uruguay test, he will face off against two of the world's most highly rated strikers in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, who between them netted 68 club goals in 2012-13.
A rather large step up for a player who, as he revealed to Oceania Football, works back home as a phys-ed teacher.
Uruguay 6-0 Tahiti
Surely, this match can only go one possible way. Uruguay are expected to run out comfortable winners against Tahiti, and nothing less than a thrashing will be good enough. The Pacific nation will give it their all, but just as against Nigeria and Spain the step up in class will be too wide for them to threaten an upset.
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