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Uruguay vs Brazil: South American classic in Las Vegas

The pick of the 2024 Copa America quarter-finals is the clash between Uruguay and Brazil at the Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada.

Alongside defending champions Argentina, Uruguay were the only team in the group stages to win all three matches en route to only their second top-table finish since 1995.

Head coach Marcelo Bielsa hopes history could repeat itself, as La Celeste won the title that year before having to wait another 16 years to climb to the podium again.

Since Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez inspired the joint-most successful Copa America title to their last title in 2011, Uruguay haven’t progressed past the quarter-finals.

Three of their last four tournament appearances have ended at this stage. Curiously enough, their two most recent quarter-final ties have ended 0-0, leading to Uruguay’s elimination on penalties.

In contrast to La Celeste’s recent Copa America struggles Brazil have shone on the grandest CONMEBOL stage, reaching back-to-back finals after an abysmal group-stage exit in 2016.

Dorival Junior’s side failed to impress in this edition’s group phase, but they’ve at least exorcised ghosts from the only previous Copa America staged on United States soil.

A 4-1 humbling of minnows Paraguay, sandwiched by a pair of labouring draws against Costa Rica and Colombia, was enough to seal a runner-up spot in Group D.


Unfortunately for the Selecao, a 1-1 stalemate against the latter dealt a significant blow to the nation’s hopes of lifting a landmark tenth Copa America title.

Standout forward Vinicius Junior picked up a red card, leaving Brazil without another vital attacking component after Neymar’s absence due to injury.

El Loco is spreading football madness

Bielsa is among the most controversial football managers, yet El Loco’s tactical ingenuity, accompanied by his flamboyant nature, has often proved a recipe for success.

Uruguay were up the creek without a paddle when the 68-year-old took charge of the national team in May 2023, but he has turned their fortunes around over the past 12 months.

In addition to their faultless Copa America campaign, La Celeste are second in their 2026 World Cup qualifying group behind world champions Argentina (W4, D1, L1).

Two of their four qualifying victories came against Argentina and Brazil, with the latter succumbing to a 2-0 loss in Montevideo last October without firing a shot on target.

To put Bielsa’s brilliance in perspective, Uruguay’s dominant performance in that match remains their only win across their last 13 encounters against the Selecao (D3, L9).

Dorival facing another uphill battle

Even without Neymar and Vinicius, Brazil still head into this match-up as slight favourites to reach the semi-finals for the fifth time in the last eight Copa America editions.

But with Uruguay firing on all cylinders and Darwin Nunez defying his disjointed Liverpool form to establish himself as the leader of this team, the Selecao must feel a bit scared.

However, their manager is not. Dorival fought cancer and won in 2019, gaining resilience and determination that transcends the pressures of football.

This fixture is the second-most important battle of his life as Brazil gave him a chance to coach the most decorated football nation at the tail-end of his managerial career.

Without Vinicius, Dorival will probably turn to teen sensation Endrick to help out Rodrygo and Raphinha up front amid Brazil’s barren attacking run.

Having failed to score in three of their last six competitive outings, Brazil’s attacking woes are Dorival’s principal concern ahead of this mouth-watering tie.

Uruguay vs Brazil potential line-ups

Uruguay (4-2-3-1): Sergio Rochet; Nahitan Nandez, Ronald Araujo, Mathias Olivera, Matias Vina; Manuel Ugarte, Federico Valverde; Facundo Pellistri, Nicolas de la Cruz, Cristian Olivera; Darwin Nunez.

Brazil (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Danilo, Eder Militao, Marquinhos, Guilherme Arana; Bruno Guimaraes, Joao Gomes; Raphinha, Lucas Paqueta, Rodrygo; Endrick.

Prediction

Given the firepower at display, neutrals would be forgiven for expecting a goal-fest in Las Vegas, but the stakes are high, leading us to believe one goal could decide the winner.

Uruguay outclassed Brazil in the last meeting between the teams, and they could replicate that feat now Vinicius is out of the picture.

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