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Preview: Uruguay vs. Paraguay - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - South America clash between Uruguay and Paraguay, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Uruguay will play host to Paraguay at the Estadio Centenario in their fifth game of World Cup qualifying on Thursday evening.

La Celeste have won only four of their last nine international matches across all competitions, while the visitors are enjoying a seven-game unbeaten run.

Match preview

Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez pictured on October 8, 2020© Reuters

Uruguay have had a mixed start to their qualification campaign, alternating between victory and defeat in their opening four matches.

Their most recent setback was a 2-0 loss at home to South American powerhouse Brazil in November 2020, which saw Edinson Cavani sent off after first-half goals from Arthur and Richarlison.

Uruguay sit fifth in the current standings, occupying the inter-confederation playoff spot, just outside the automatic qualification places.

La Celeste will now be looking to overcome a Paraguay outfit who they are unbeaten against in each of their last seven meetings.

Head coach Oscar Tabarez, who has been in charge of the Uruguayan national team since 2006, is hoping he can guide the team to his fourth successive World Cup tournament, and a victory on Thursday would put them in a strong position to do just that.

Paraguay players react against Argentina on November 13, 2020© Reuters

In contrast, Paraguay have failed to qualify for the last two World Cups, although a strong start to their qualification campaign this time around has boosted their chances of returning to the greatest stage of international football.

Three draws, including an impressive 1-1 result against Argentina and one victory against Venezuela, sees La Albirroja sitting in fourth place, with six points from their opening four matches.

Although Eduardo Berizzo's side are one of only three teams, along with Argentina and Brazil, who remain undefeated in the South American qualifiers, they actually had one more point at this stage of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, in which they finished seventh and three points adrift of the top four.

Paraguay will be aware that their campaign is still in the early stages, but if they wish to seal one of the four qualification spots, then claiming points in encounters against strong teams like Uruguay will be required.

La Albirroja last beat Uruguay back in October 2007 in a World Cup qualifier. A repeat of this result on Thursday would see them remain in the top four.

Uruguay World Cup Qualifying - South America form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W

Uruguay form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W

Paraguay World Cup Qualifying - South America form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D

Paraguay form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D

Team News

Luis Suarez reacts after missing a chance for Uruguay in their Copa America defeat to Peru on June 29, 2019© Reuters

Uruguay will be without the suspended Cavani, which means key forward Luis Suarez is set to start in attack alongside Jonathan Rodriguez.

Goalkeeper Martin Campana has started in every qualifier so far, but he could be replaced on Thursday by the 116-time capped Fernando Muslera.

Left-back Matias Vina is set to replace Agustin Oliveros, who made his debut against Brazil in November but has not been named in the 24-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers.

Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin are expected to start at centre-back ahead of Sebastian Coates and Ronald Araujo, while Arsenal's Lucas Torreira and Real Madrid's Rodrigo Bentancur are likely to start in central midfield.

As for Paraguay, striker Antonio Sanabria has not been named in their 32-man squad, despite starting their most recent match against Bolivia in November.

Either Carlos Gonzalez Espinola or Gabriel Avalos – who is yet to make his debut – is set to start as the lone striker with Angel Romero and Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron expected to operate on the flanks.

Oscar Romero, who is four caps away from making his 50th international appearance, could start in the number 10 role, in front of Richard Sanchez and Gaston Gimenez, who may play in deeper central midfield positions.

Uruguay possible starting lineup:
Muslera; Caceres, Gimenez, Godin, Vina; Nandez, Torreira, Bentancur, De La Cruz; Rodriguez, Suarez

Paraguay possible starting lineup:
Silva; Espinola, Balbuena, Gomez, Alonso; Sanchez, G.Gimenez; O.Romero; A.Romero, Gonzalez Espinola, Almiron

SM words green background

We say: Uruguay 1-0 Paraguay

Thursday's encounter between Uruguay and Paraguay is set to be closely-fought, with both sides having claimed six points from their opening four matches.

Although the visitors are unbeaten so far, we feel that the hosts should have enough quality to secure a narrow victory in Montevideo.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani celebrates scoring against Southampton in the Premier League on November 29, 2020
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