Second and third place face off in Group C on Friday as Uruguay and Japan meet on matchday two of their Copa America campaigns. Uruguay will be quite happy with their opening encounter of the tournament, where they defeated Ecuador with ease to go top of the table until Chile equalled their tally versus Japan and subsequently overtook last year’s World Cup quarter finalists. Japan won’t be confident going into this one having been crushed last time out, but if they pick up a result here there is every chance of them making a surprise push for the next round.
Uruguay could not be in better form right now, winning four on the bounce and not conceding a single goal in that time, bagging fourteen for themselves. Albeit, three of those fixtures were friendlies with Uzbekistan, Thailand and Panama, arguably not the finest of opposition, that certainly doesn’t take any of the shine off of their incredible opener against Ecuador. In that matchup, it was Nicolas Lodeiro who began the scoring in the sixth minute and less than twenty minutes later their opponents were reduced to ten men as Jose Quinteros received a straight red card. With the half hour mark passing by, Edinson Cavani doubled his teams lead and eleven minutes after that, Luis Suarez was on hand to make it three. An own goal from Arturo Mina in the 78th minute confirmed the result and ensured that three points would be going the way of Oscar Tabarez’s men. They will be looking for a similar, if not better, performance here against a mentaly weaker Japan.
Japan’s build up to the Copa America was not quite as impressive as that of their opponents on Friday, however they still came through their last three warm up matches unscathed, keeping a clean sheet in each and winning twice despite only netting three times. All of their good work counted for nothing versus Chile though, as they were met with ferocious, merciless attacking play from the champions of three years ago. Both sides had a fair amount of opportunities to score, and Japan will undoubtedly regret that they couldn’t work the goalkeeper more. It wasn’t until five minutes prior to half time that Chile took the lead through Erick Pulgar, assisted by Charles Aranguiz. Nearly ten minutes following the break, Eduardo Vargas put them two in front and forced manager Hajime Moriyasu into making changes to his tactics. It made little difference, Alexis Sanchez hit the net for three, and Vargas grabbed his brace one minute later to see Japan leave the field empty handed and damaged. Everything now depends on how this Japanese side can react from such a devastating loss.
The 4-3-1-2 formation that worked ever so well in the first match for Uruguay will likely be utilized by Tabarez again here, as they face off against a side who will struggle to break them down and find it difficult to halt any attacks coming their way. Luis Suarez and Cavani are expected to lead the line with both attackers ready and waiting to bag some more goals after getting off the mark already in the Copa America. There is also no reason to change the defence as Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez had solid performances, as did Martin Caceres. Unfortunately, Matias Vecino will no longer play any part in this summer’s tournament due to a hamstring injury he picked up in the affair with Ecuador.
In terms of Japan’s line up and selection, it’s hard to see who deserves to start this fixture. They began with a 4-2-3-1 formation, which was already a mistake as they had been preparing for the tournament with three at the back. Moriyasu obviously feels that his team needs more protection against sides that can tear them apart with fantastic forwards, but that error is all on him. Naomichi Ueda endured one of the worst matches of his career and it would be a surprise if he were to be given a place in the starting line up for this one, while Yuta Nakayama won’t have gathered any confidence from this first outing, losing thirteen of the eighteen duels who attempted. Thankfully from their point of view, there are no injuries to report ahead of a crucial penultimate group stage game.
After the way their respective opening matches went, it’s virtually impossible to see any way that Japan can pick up points from this meeting. They lacked a cutting edge on the attack despite Real Madrid’s new signing Kubo creating some decent opportunities at times. However, we are going for Uruguay to win and BTTS at 9/4 with Bet365 as Uruguay can be unpredictable at times in major tournaments, and Japan may just come out with a fire in their hearts in an attempt to right the wrongs of matchday one.
Uruguay will earn three points, that appears all but certain, and a winning margin of at least three looks clear. They have done exactly that in each of their previous four games and you can find odds of 15/4 for Uruguay to make it five games in a row with Bet365, a bet we’ll definitely be taking a close look at. So, with Uruguay expected to win by at least three clear goals and Japan hoping to net their first goal of the competition, a 4-1 result appears the likely outcome. Bet365 have that scoreline at 16/1, which is a brilliant price.
Uruguay win and BTTS at 9/4
Uruguay to win by three goals at 15/4
Uruguay win 4-1 at 16/1