CONCACAF: Brazil dealing with lineup change vs. powerful Uruguay

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Uruguay has been one of the top teams in Copa America play behind a tournament-best plus-8 goal differential.

Now Uruguay aims to continue its strong performance on both sides of the ball when it faces Brazil on Saturday in a quarterfinal match at Las Vegas.

Uruguay is tied with Argentina for the most Copa America titles (15), but it hasn’t won the championship since 2011.

But now, Uruguay feels it can play whatever type of match is required to win.

“In the training of a footballer, Uruguay has something (different), and it is a competitive national structure at a very early age, which specialists advise against,” Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa said at a Friday press conference.

Bielsa will be back on the sideline Saturday. He was suspended for the team’ 1-0 victory over the United States on Monday due to two violations involving his team being late to the field for the start of the second half. That occurred in each of his club’s first two Copa America matches.

Brazil is dealing with a big absence as star forward Vinicius Junior is suspended for the quarterfinal clash because he received his second yellow card of the tournament in in the Selecao’s 1-1 tie against Colombia on Tuesday.

Vinicius Junior has scored a team-high two of Brazil’s five goals during the tournament. Playing without him is a bigger blow because star Neymar isn’t part of the roster as he continues to recover from an ACL tear sustained last year.

At a press conference on Friday, Brazil coach Dorival Junior said that 17-year-old Endrick would start in place of Vinicius Junior.

Endrick has made nine appearances for Brazil, all as a reserve, including each of the three Copa America matches.

“We lost an important player, but we gain another searching for his chance,” Dorival Junior said. “Who knows? This could be Endrick’s moment.”

Bielsa said the opponent’s lineup change won’t be a factor for Uruguay on Saturday.

“Personally, I don’t think it affects the strategy that Vinicius is not there,” Bielsa said. “Brazil is a country that at the moment has many wingers at both ends and playing great teams in the world and at a good level.”

Dorival Junior also said that defender Guilherme Arana would move back into the starting lineup. He started Brazil’s Copa America opener before Wendell started the past two matches.

Brazil was runner-up to Argentina in 2021, two years after winning its ninth Copa America title.

However, Brazil’s play has been less than dominating this time around. The Selecao went 1-0-2 in Group D pool play while outscoring their opponents 5-2.

Brazil sandwiched draws against Costa Rica (0-0) and Colombia (1-1) around a 4-1 victory over Paraguay. In the Tuesday match against Colombia, Raphinha scored Brazil’s goal.

“We have to be honest with ourselves. We still have a lot to grow, a lot to improve, especially in these big games,” Brazil defender Marquinhos said.

Uruguay outscored its Group C opponents 9-1 while winning three pool-play matches.

Uruguay defeated Panama 3-1 and Bolivia 5-0 in addition to the close win over the United States. Mathias Olivera scored on a rebound in the 66th in the win over the U.S.

Darwin Nunez and Maximiliano Araujo each have scored two goals for Uruguay. Araujo left the U.S. match with a head injury but is expected to be available on Saturday.

Uruguay has allowed just six shots on target in the three matches with goalkeeper Sergio Rochet making five saves.

–Field Level Media

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