Recife, Brazil – Uruguay’s last match at the Confederations Cup was pretty easy. The next one will be anything but.
The Uruguayans easily beat Tahiti 8-0 yesterday to finish second in Group B and reach the semifinals of the World Cup warm-up tournament. Their reward is a match against host Brazil on Wednesday in Belo Horizonte.
“All I can say is that we’re facing one of the mightiest football powers in the world,” said Abel Hernandez, who scored four goals in the match against Tahiti.
“Brazil has a wonderful team, but we’ve shown that we have a lot of confidence in ourselves and we have a very united group.”
Uruguay qualified for the Confederations Cup by winning the Copa America. And with star players like Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, the team also reached the semifinals of the last World Cup.
Perhaps giving the Uruguayans some more confidence ahead of Wednesday’s match, the little neighbour from the south still fondly remembers beating Brazil at the Maracana Stadium in the final match of the 1950 World Cup.
“Playing against Brazil is something highly motivating because of their might, of their power. Because of what football is, because the national team has won the Fifa World Cup more times than anyone. Because of how they feel football,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said, laying the praise on the five-time world champions. “Because of all of the above.”
Brazil has won all three of its matches at this year’s Confederations Cup, finishing first in Group A and looking good for a third straight title.
Uruguay, however, lost its opening match against Spain and finished second behind the current world champions after wins over Nigeria and Tahiti.
In the other semifinal match on Thursday in Fortaleza, Spain will face Italy in a rematch of the 2012 European Championship final. The Spanish won that match 4-0 in Kiev last year.
But it’s Uruguay that will have to take on the hosts, something they had to do at the last World Cup in South Africa as well.
“This group knows what it means to play as a visitor. We know obviously what will be the environment, in favor of the opposing team,” Tabarez said.
“(But) people don’t play, not the fans. It’s 11 against 11.”
Brazil, however, will also have the slight advantage of an extra day of rest. The hosts’ last game was a 4-2 win over Italy on Saturday.
Tabarez consequently rested several key players for the match against Tahiti, and Suarez only came on as a second-half substitute, scoring two of the team’s eight goals.
Now comes the tough part – actually playing Brazil.
“We will try as we do in all matches. We will try to limit the strong points that Brazil has,” Tabarez said. “I can’t say whether this is going to be a difficult match or not. But we know that we have to work a lot, play hard, in order to contain Brazil.”
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