SOUTH AMERICAN football fanatic Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over the Copa America showdown between Group C sides Uruguay and Ecuador in Belo Horizonte.
Uruguay v Ecuador | Sunday 16th June 2019, 23:00 | Premier Sports
Sunday night’s Group C curtain-raiser from Belo Horizonte sees Uruguay start as appealing 4/5 (Blacktype) favourites against Ecuador. I’ve already pinned my colours to the La Celeste mast in both the Outright and Group Winner markets and I’m keen to gobble up the available odds on Oscar Tabarez’s team kicking off their campaign with a victory.
Of course, there’s plenty reason to support Uruguay, although arguably the most solid slice of evidence resides with Ecuador. You see, La Tricolor have failed to win a competitive match outside of their homeland since November 2015 and have a rotten recent Copa America history, failing to reach the final-four since hosting the competition in 1993.
Already there’s signs to suggest Pacific coast country could struggle. However, the clinching point arrives via La Tri’s head coach Hernan Dario Gomez. The returning boss has dismissed the Copa America as an inconvenience and shall we treating the competition as a glorified training exercise in Brazil to aid preparation for next year’s World Cup qualifiers.
The straight-talking Colombian said, “We are not going to be ready for the Copa America. I’ll still be lacking plenty of knowledge about a lot of things. This will be the time I can spend with the players, the space where we can start forming a team for the qualifiers”.
Already an unpopular choice as head coach, Gomez has a history of treating the tournament with disdain and has fired out warnings to the federation about a perceived lack of unity behind the scenes. Whilst Ecuador are producing an U20 squad that claimed continental glory recently, few starlets are making their way into contention for the seniors.
Supporters have already grown frustrated by Gomez’s lack of urgency to blood a squad and first XI capable of competing. The former Panama boss is renowned for his simplified, and often defensive, system with a preference for direct football, although his lack of quality options could make the going a little tough for La Tricolor this summer, starting on Sunday.
Uruguay expected to start with a success
I’ve deciphered this Uruguay side in more detail during our pre-tournament pieces analysing both the outright market and the three groups, so there’s not a huge degree of fresh material I can add to this preview. La Celeste simply boast more ability in both boxes, an adaptable and capable midfield and a wily coach with a system that’s always competitive.
During World Cup qualification, Uruguay collected 11 more points than Ecuador and recording seven shutouts. Oscar Tabarez’s team progressed to the quarter-finals of the World Cup and silenced all three of their group opponents, highlighting their defensive strength with Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez forming an impenetrable partnership.
Uruguay have continued their impressive efforts in 2019 friendly fixtures and since the start of 2018 La Celeste have tabled 11 triumphs from 16 outings across all competitions, again highlighting the value in taking the jollies at the available 4/5.
Exclude encounters with Central American opponents El Salvador, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Guatemala and Panama – all of whom are far weaker than Uruguay – and Ecuador have delivered just W1-D4-L9 since March 2017. That’s six defeats from nine matches against continental rivals with five defeats from five since November 2016 when meeting Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Chile.
Uruguay v Ecuador – Uruguay to win (4/5 Black Type)