Following an opening phase of games marred by protests off the field and blowouts on the field, we’re down to the final four at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil and let’s hope the excitement picks up. There’s been great pressure on the host nation to win this tournament, and thus far they have lived up to the lofty expectations. Brazil looked formidable in all three of their opening round fixtures, but have yet to face a squad with the firepower of Uruguay. The Uruguayans began the tournament out-of-form, but have only gotten better as they’ve progressed in their matches. Their explosive attackers can pose problems for a vulnerable back-four of Brazil, and this South American clash should produce a ton of excitement. Read on below for our first official pick and thoughts on this scintillating semi-final match-up.
Uruguay (+800) / Draw (+420) / Brazil (-330)
Over 3.0 (-120) / Under 3.0 (-110)
While Brazil has been a dominant soccer team on the international stage for generations, the Uruguayans have only recently returned to glory. Led by their key attacking trio of Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay is capable of pulling the big upset in today’s Confederations Cup semi-final. Their firepower and skill up front is as good as any national team in the world, and don’t be surprised if this group strikes fear into the millions of Brazilians hoping to see their country head into next year’s World Cup in top form.
If you’re unfamiliar with the game of soccer, or simply look to it as a boring game, I’d tune it to this one and watch with an open mind. Expect some brilliance from both sides, with plenty of offense and scoring chances. Both Uruguay and Brazil play very wide-open styles and win by attacking. Uruguay Head Coach Oscar Tabarez has already stated he won’t change his team’s style for anybody, so look for the Uruguayans to battle toe-to-toe in the goal-scoring battle against the Brazilians.
While much of the fanfare heading into this one will focus on the Uruguayan attacking trio and them leading their country to the upset, let’s remember who the favourites are. Brazil looks simply amazing right now, and their highly-touted 21-year old striker Neymar is doing a fine job leading the attack. The newly minted Barcelona forward has scored in every game, living up to hype put on him and should be able to maneuver his way around a Uruguay team that routinely makes defensive miscues. For all of Uruguay’s prowess up front, their play in their own 18-yard box is often comical, and the Brazilians should only add to that reputation.
While an outright Uruguayan victory is admittedly unlikely, their depth and talent up front do make it a possibility. Thus the Uruguayans know in order to pull off the miracle victory, they’ll need to outscore Brazil and do so by attacking and pressuring their defenders. Merely sitting back and trying to play stifling defense isn’t how they got here, and not the proper way to defeat a prolific Brazil side. Expect Uruguay to play an up-tempo game and really push the pace. Their speed on the flanks and strength in their finishers up front will put pressure on Brazil. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side is pretty solid, but if there is a weakness, it’d be with their mostly untested back-four.
Expect Uruguay to play this fixture with a ton of passion and should be able to get on the scoresheet. Their front-three of Forlan, Suarez, and Cavani are too good to be shut out, and expect goals in this match-up. Conversely, Uruguay’s high-risk, high-reward gameplan should also lead to Brazilian goals as well. For these reasons, consider playing the over in the goals market. Both teams can score, and both sides have susceptible defensive groups. This won’t be your typical boring match. Expect chances, speed, and ultimately goals. A score-line of around 3-1 or 3-2 in favour of Brazil is what to expect from this match. While the Over 3 Goals is my official selection, there is also great value on both the Brazilian Neymar to find the back of the net, and both teams to score at (-115).
PICK = Over 3.0 Goals (-120)