Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City fans will be watching on with interest this evening as Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani face off against the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata, Fernando Torres and company when Uruguay take on Spain.
There will be a undeniable Premier League flavour to proceedings as Vicente del Bosque’s all-conquering artisans commence their bid to win an unprecedented fourth straight international tournament at the Confederations Cup.
Suarez, who has expressed his desire to leave Liverpool, and Cavani – a rumoured £50 million target for both Chelsea and City – will certainly present a live threat to Spain’s hopes of opening their Group B campaign with a victory.
However, they will need to be on top form to breach a Spanish rearguard that has conceded just four goals in its last 13 tournament outings, while La Roja are unbeaten in 25 competitive matches.
Unsurprisingly, Del Bosque’s men go in as strong 53/100 favourites and will be buoyed by the fact that they saw off Uruguay 3-1 as recently as February in a friendly in Doha.
La Celeste are available at 19/4 while the draw is at 31/10, but the preference naturally has to be for the reigning world and European champions – even if I think it could be a closer encounter than many observers are expecting.
Oscar Tabarez has come in for criticism after seeing his side suffer bruising defeats by Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia, and they are far from certain of emerging from the South American qualification section for next summer’s World Cup.
However, there is a sense that a corner has been turned after back-to-back victories over France and Venezuela – the first time they have achieved this since November 2011 – and I can see Uruguay giving Spain a decent game.
On top of that, La Roja have struggled to click into gear straight away at recent tournaments, having been held to a 1-1 draw by Italy in their first game at Euro 2012 and suffered a shock 1-0 defeat by Switzerland in their 2010 World Cup opener.
With that in mind, and the fact that Uruguay have Suarez (ten goals in his last 13 international appearances) and Cavani in their ranks, the underdogs look good for a goal at the very least, which opens up some interesting betting avenues.
Spain should still have the class to emerge victorious, as Uruguay’s confidence must be brittle after suffering so many poor qualifying results since their Copa America triumph in 2011, but the short odds-on shout offers no real appeal.
Instead, assuming Tabarez’s men can get on the scoresheet, a big-looking price of 17/5 on Spain to win 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 could prove cracking value and that’s where this punter’s money will be going.