Brazil v Uruguay Confederations Cup preview
Now it all gets very interesting. Two Confederation Cup semi-finals clashes featuring the best of South America and then the best of Europe.
Tonight Brazil take on Uruguay (live on BBC3) in Belo Horizonte for the right to play either Spain or Italy in the final. Coral make them 4/11 to beat their neighbours (8/1 Uruguay, 7/2 the draw) and it will be little short of a disaster for the hosts and their demanding fans if they don’t win and get invited to the big party at the Maracana on Sunday night.
Brazil are very much a work in progress. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has been satisfied with their performances at this tournament and though they might not yet be ready to topple Spain, it might well be a different story come the 2014 World Cup.
For the most part, they have been efficient, rather than spectacular, but there have been glimpses of the Brazil we all admire so much, at an individual level from Neymar in particular and as a team when they turned it on in spells in their recent 4-2 win over Italy.
Neymar has shown us all why Barcelona have paid getting on for 50 million quid for him with flashes of brilliance earning him a goal in each game so far. You can get even money with Coral that Neymar scores at any time tonight to continue the sequence, 4/1 that he scores first or last, 5/1 that he nets twice and 20/1 that he notches a hat-trick.
Paulinho, seemingly on the brink of joining Spurs, is available again for selection after missing the Italy game with an ankle strain. He’s 100/30 to get on the scoresheet at any time and 9/1 to score first or last.
There’s a whole lot of history between these two nations and Uruguayans with decent memories can recall some famous triumphs for La Celeste. But they haven’t beaten Brazil since 2001 and haven’t shown enough in this tournament so far to suggest that they are about to.
Yes, Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani are dangerous strikers – and so is stand-in Abel Hernandez, who netted four against Tahiti – but they can’t do it all themselves and Uruguay may be too busy repelling Brazil’s talented forwards to mount too many challenges themselves, although you can see them scoring.
There have been plenty of goals in this edition of the Confederations Cup (not just in games involving Tahiti) and that trend may continue here. Brazil might well have it in them to knock in another four and Coral go 14/1 it finishes 4-0, 18/1 4-1 and 40/1 4-2.
Written by Jon Freeman