x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Confederations Cup: Uruguay have a semi-final date with the hosts

Uruguay will try to rekindle some 1950 magic against hosts Brazil in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup.

Uruguay’s Abel Hernandez scored four goals against Tahiti but the real test awaits Tuesday against Brazil in the Confederations Cup semi-finals. Daniel Garcia / AFP
Uruguay’s Abel Hernandez scored four goals against Tahiti but the real test awaits Tuesday against Brazil in the Confederations Cup semi-finals. Daniel Garcia / AFP

RECIFE, Brazil// Uruguay's last match at the Confederations Cup was pretty easy. The next one will be anything but.

The Uruguayans beat Tahiti 8-0 on Sunday to finish second in Group B and reach the semi-finals of the World Cup warm-up tournament. Their reward is a match against host Brazil on Tuesday 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 such as Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, the team also reached the semi-finals of the last World Cup, in 2010.

Perhaps giving the Uruguayans some more confidence ahead of Tuesday's match, the little neighbours from the south still fondly remember beating Brazil at the Maracana 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, heaping praise on the five-time world champions. "Because of all of the above."

Brazil have won all three of their matches at this year's Confederations Cup, finishing first in Group A and looking strong contenders for a third straight title. Uruguay lost their opening match against Spain and finished second behind the world champions after wins over Nigeria and Tahiti.

In the other semi-final match on Thursday, in Fortaleza, Spain will face Italy in a rematch of the 2012 European Championship final. Spain won that match 4-0 in Kiev last year.

Italy's star striker, Mario Balotelli, has been ruled out the match with a thigh injury

It is Uruguay, however, who 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 favour of the opposing team," Tabarez said. "[But] people don't play, not the fans. It's 11 against 11."

Brazil will also have the slight advantage of an extra day of rest. The hosts' last game was a 4-2 victory 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, to contain Brazil."


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