Group A joint-leaders Uruguay and Mexico meet in Rustenburg in an encounter they hope will not only book their place in the knockout stages, but will also give them a better chance of going even further in the competition. Both countries need only a draw to qualify, but in that case the Uruguayans would end up as group winners and Javier Aguirre’s men would in all probability face in-form Argentina, a Round of 16 clash they will surely want to avoid at all costs.
Uruguay-Mexico, Group A, Rustenburg, Tuesday 22 June, 16:00 (local time)
After easily seeing off the challenge of hosts South Africa, Oscar Tabarez’s men come into their final group game in good spirits. The comfortable 3-0 victory over Bafana Bafana saw the South Americans grow in confidence as the match went on, something that was missing in their first game against France.
Mexico used their game against the 1998 champions to find real form. Quick and direct in attack, El Tri showed just how dangerous they can be going forward, but the Uruguayans’ solid defensive unit will provide tough opposition here.
Players to watch
Diego Forlan v Rafael Marquez
Uruguay’s star striker and Mexico’s defensive linchpin are old rivals and have pitted their wits against each other at club level on a number of occasions. Marquez signed for Catalan giants Barcelona in 2003, while Forlan arrived in Spain a year later, making his name first with Villarreal, where he spent three successful years before moving to Atletico Madrid. Both men have been in excellent form in the tournament so far. Forlan has been named Man of the Match in both of Los Charruas’ games, while Mexican captain Marquez has played a pivotal role in front of the back four whilst also weighing in with a goal.
1 - Both countries need just a single point from the game to book their place in the last 16.
What they said
“I like Mexico. I like their intensity. They are similar to us in that they have know how to make well-drilled tactical changes. They have a lot of pace, they are clever, they have intelligent players, they are good in the air and they can surprise you. All that said, in all modesty I still think that we have what it takes to give them a good game,” Sebastian Abreu, Uruguay forward.
“Mexico won’t play for a draw. I love winning and so do my team-mates because that’s our mentality. I’m not really interested in whether Uruguay, France or South Africa qualify. I want to win this game, no two ways about it,” Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Mexico forward.
Voice of the fans
“In Argentina we’re desperate to know who we’re going to play in the next round and to be honest we don’t want to play either of these teams. If I had to choose it would be Mexico, not because they’re the weaker side, but just because of our close relationship with Uruguay. The Uruguayans are like our brothers. Mexico will be strong all over the pitch and will have a lot of options in attack. Uruguay play good football, press the ball well and as usual will play with a lot of courage. Good luck to both teams,” FIFA.com user torifarias (Argentina).
Who will manage to avoid a likely encounter with Diego Maradona’s Argentina by topping group A?