2018 FIFA World Cup Match Report: Uruguay 1-0 Saudi Arabia

Uruguay continue their positive run after another slight win in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, this time the victims are Saudi Arabia.

Oscar Tabarez’s side are huge favourites in this match and they were expected to pile even more pressure on Saudi Arabia.
Barcelona striker Luis Suarez seems determined to make up for his performance in the last match while his strike partner Edinson Cavani is also still in search for his first goal in Russia.
Saudi Arabia were hoping for some miracle in this match, they know they could still get through if only they could win this match but that would seem like an almost impossible task.
Uruguay started the match with a real attacking intent, it only took 3 minutes for them to produce a moment of anxiety for the fans of Saudi Arabia with as Luis Suarez struck the ball on a half volley but his effort was blocked by the defender.
The Eagles got a chance of their own as Fahad Al-Muwallad danced around just outside the edge of the box. He managed to find some space for a cross but it was too close to the keeper, a comfortable catch for Muslera.
In the 12th minute, Uruguay almost scored a goal as Caceres made a darting run in the left flank and delivered a low cross into the box, Cavani was there to connect on a half volley, but the ball went up and well away above the crossbar instead, it wasn’t a clean contact by the Uruguayan striker.
The breakthrough finally came for Uruguay in the 23rd minute as Luis Suarez put the ball home via a corner kick from Carlos Sanches, sending the Uruguayan fans into raptures. The goalkeeper went too early to try to punch the ball away but he was clearly nowhere near the ball at all, poor decision.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side tried to reply instantly two minutes later as right winger Hatan Bahbir managed to cut inside and unleashed a powerful shot from a long range but the goalkeeper was there to tip the ball behind for a corner. It was a lovely shot by the 25-year-old winger but equalled with a great save by Muslera.
The scoreline stayed the same until the first half whistle.
Saudi Arabia tried to be more aggressive in the second half but a defensively improved Uruguay were able to deal with the threats accordingly. It was even Uruguay who got more chances in the second half, rather than their opposition.
There were not really many chances happening in the second half though despite the Uruguayans being expected to keep the goals flowing but their attack have been tame throughout the World Cup which is a bit disappointing considering the quality that they have in their disposal especially in the offensive department.
1-0 was the score after the referee blew the whistle for the final time. Another three points for Luis Suarez and co. as they booked a place in the World Cup knockout rounds.

Tactical Analysis

The Saudi Arabia coach made four changes to his side for the match against Uruguay, he was definitely unimpressed by his team’s performance in their first match where they lost 5-0 against the hosts Russia despite dominating in passes and possession.
They also did better in keeping possession in this match with 53% ball possession. The Saudis also were a bit better in passing as they made a total of 548 pass attempts with a success rate of 87% compared with Uruguay’s 498 pass attempts with an 84% success rate.
Uruguay were superior in aerial duels though, winning 58% of the duels against their oppositions.
La Celeste were not very productive lately as their shots were rarely on target. They only managed to get 3 shots on target out of 13 attempts.
Saudi Arabia meanwhile were much more confident in attack in the first half of this match but seemed to lose their spirit in the second half despite really wanting to steal a point against the Uruguayan. They made a total of 8 shots, with 3 of them being on target, but none of them were converted into a goal, unfortunately.
Both teams showed a very good defensive resilience in this match, especially Uruguay who were unbreakable in the second half.
Uruguay still need to fix their problems in the attacking department as it has been a somewhat poor campaign although they have only played two matches, there surely be something wrong there if a world-class duo consisting of clinical strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani can’t produce goals. The problem might also lie in the support from the midfield.
La Celeste have only scored two goals in the 2018 FIFA World Cup with both of them being the result of a set-piece, while Saudi Arabia barely scored a single goal in Russia.

Man of the Match: Diego Godin

Yes, it was Luis Suarez who scored the winning goal in the match to secure a place in the knockout rounds but were it not for Diego Godin, Uruguay might have to suffer the consequences of conceding a goal or two.
Along with his partner at the centre of the defence, Jose Maria Gimenez (who is apparently also his defensive partner in their club Atletico Madrid), has really delivered top-notch performances in the World Cup. They are unbeatable in the air, have excellent techniques when it comes to stealing the ball, and are proficient in reading the game, intercepting, and stopping the play of their oppositions.

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