Uruguay are headed to the World Cup in Russia this summer, while the Czech Republic missed out on their third World Cup in a row. The two will meet in Nanning, China, on March 23rd as part of the China Cup alongside China and Wales.
What To Know About Uruguay
Uruguay made it to the World Cup by finishing second in their federation behind Brazil, and they scored 32 goals while allowing 20 in 18 games. Edinson Cavani led the team with 10 goals, which was actually the most in World Cup qualifying for CONMEBOL, while Luis Suarez had five goals. In this duo, Uruguay has one of the best strike pairs in the world and both are still playing at a high level. Uruguay has plenty of experience at the back, led by captain Diego Godin. It is the midfield where there are a few questions as Cristian Rodriguez is probably their best player, but he is just below world-class. A team with a better midfield can overrun Uruguay and they’ll look to strengthen that area before they head to the World Cup, where Uruguay will be in a group with Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
What To Know About Czech Republic
The Czech Republic finished third in their qualifying group, which means they also missed out on a play-off spot. They scored 17 goals and allowed ten during qualifying, and Michal Krmencik’s four goals were the most on the team. Krmencik is an intriguing player as a 24-year-old forward, and he is part of a youth movement going on in the Czech Republic soccer program right now. In their last friendly matches against Iceland and Qatar in November, there wasn’t a single player older than 29 years old called up to play. In fact, 16 of the players were 25 and younger and it is clear to see that the Czech Republic wants this young group of players to be together and build some continuity going into the European Championships in 2020. Getting players like Krmencik and 23-year-old midfielder Antonin Barak (who scored three goals in qualifying) as much time as possible should be the goal for the Czech Republic over the next two years.
Uruguay should probably be favored in this match and these two have met just twice before, each picking up a win against each other at the 1997 Confederations Cup. This should be a good test for Uruguay as the Czech Republic has a lot of young players with something to prove, and the first 45 minutes at least should be a solid run-out for the first 11. Uruguay will probably make a lot of subs at the half as they have a much older team than the Czech Republic and a lot of players that still have a lot of high-profile soccer left to play with their clubs. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all if the Czech Republic won this game based on Uruguay sitting their top players after the break, so that is something to watch for.
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