Uruguay and Venezuela will both aim to build on recent wins in World Cup 2022 CONMEBOL Qualifying during Tuesday’s battle at the Estadio Centenario.
Diego Alonso’s men saw off Paraguay 1-0 to keep their hopes of automatic qualification alive, while their visitors eased to a 4-1 success over Bolivia last time out.
Finally managing to snap a dismal winless period that ultimately marked the end of Oscar Tabarez’s tenure in the dugout, Uruguay’s stint under the tutelage of Alonso began in ideal fashion with a precious three points against Paraguay.
Luis Suarez’s 66th goal for the national team was all that separated the two sides on the day as Uruguay ended their five-game winless streak in World Cup Qualifying – including an abysmal period of four successive defeats – but their top-four destiny is out of their own hands.
Uruguay have slipped to fifth in the standings after Tabarez’s final few defeats – which would be good enough for a spot in the inter-confederation playoffs – but only one point separates them from Peru in the fourth and final automatic qualification spot.
Not since 2006 have the two-time World Cup winners failed to qualify for the finals tournament – making it out of the group stage in all three subsequent editions – but Alonso will be determined to avoid doing it the hard way after getting off to a fast start on the touchline.
Suarez’s winner against Paraguay marks only the second goal Uruguay have scored in their last six Qualifying games – averaging one per game with 15 strikes from 15 matches so far – and Venezuela had no such trouble in the ruthlessness department last time out.
The less said about the start to his Everton career the better, but Salomon Rondon was a different beast in the Venezuela shirt versus Bolivia on Friday, scoring three of his side’s four goals to restore a bit of parity in an otherwise doomed qualification period.
Rondon’s first-half brace was cancelled out by Bruno Miranda in the first half as Bolivia threatened a comeback in the second 45, but a red card for Justiniano killed any fleeting hopes of a turnaround as Rondon and Darwin Machis made sure of the result.
As eye-catching as that performance was, only a third win from 15 matches in Qualifying means that rock-bottom Venezuela now cannot earn an automatic qualification for Qatar and will need a miracle to even climb up to fifth and make the playoffs.
The world’s 59th-ranked nation therefore seem consigned to another year without a finals appearance and are still waiting for their first-ever qualification to the World Cup, with such hopes likely to be dashed entirely this week as Cesar Farias’s men have played seven and lost seven away from home in the section so far.
Venezuela did manage to hold Uruguay to a goalless stalemate during their battle back in June – the visitors’ only draw of Qualifying so far – but Alonso’s side will endeavour to prove why five places and nine points separate the two sides in the section this week.
Uruguay World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Venezuela World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
We say: Uruguay 2-1 Venezuela
A Rondon-inspired Venezuela are certainly capable of troubling this Uruguay defence despite the telepathic relationship between Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, with the hosts still finding their feet under Alonso.
However, La Vinotinto have simply capitulated on the road during this Qualifying period, and while this may turn out to be a closer battle than it may look on paper, Uruguay should still get the job done to pile the pressure on Peru.