Uruguay welcome Chile to the Estadio Centenario on Friday hoping to make it two wins out of three in their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign.
Having triumphed in the Copa America, Oscar Tabárez’s side are so far unbeaten on the road to Brazil, beating Bolivia 4-2 and then claiming a creditable 1-1 draw in Paraguay.
In fact, come to think of it, the Charruas haven’t lost a single game since the 2010 World Cup third-place playoff against Germany, which is one of the reasons why they are 3/5 favourites for this clash, with a draw quoted at 13/5.
On paper, Uruguay should carry the day, considering the goalscorers they have at their disposal (Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are 7/2 and 9/2 respectively to open the scoring), not to mention talented midfielders like Egidio Arevalo and Alvaro Pereira, the Porto trickster who pretty much dragged Uruguay into the Copa quarters thanks to his goals against Mexico and, guess who, Chile (he is, incidentally, 18/1 to open the scoring).
Nothing, however, will be more likely to influence the outcome of this match than the recent lads’ night out that saw Arturo Vidal, Jean Beausejour, Jorge Valdivia, Gonzalo Jara and Carlos Carmona missing a team curfew, resulting in Borghi banishing them from the squad.
As four of them started La Roja’s last game – a 4-2 win over Peru – one wonders how Chile can possibly function when their three-at-the-back formation demands a well-drilled, almost perfectly coordinated unit.
One thing is certain: Uruguay are firm favourites and are 23/20 to net more than 2.5 goals, while those interested by a riskier punt might want to consider the 11/4 quoted for four goals or more.
Football betting fans who register with bwin receive a free £25 bet, which could be used on Liverpool striker Suarez, who has hit the net four times in his last five games. Were he to trouble the scorers first, that £25 would generate winnings of £112.50.
Uruguay centre-back Diego Lugano is also at a scandalously large price to score either first (28/1) or at any point during the tie (8/1).
For a start, he has a knack for putting away important goals, such as against Paraguay during the 2010 qualifying campaign, at a time when the latter actually topped the group.
Then there’s the fact that he’s on a hot streak (three in his last two games) and that half of his eight international goals were scored here at the Centenario.
Not convinced? Well, I’ll definitely be putting a fiver down on him, then we’ll see how happy I’ll be when I squander whatever five multiplied by 28 is.
Having stated Uruguay’s case for a win, we cannot forget that Chile are more than capable of laying a trap for their opponents.
What if boss Claudio Borghi decides to forgo his ideology and throw in a fourth man at the back, hoping to grab one on the counter?
Chile haven’t merely got the likes of Alexis Sanchez – who netted against Uruguay during the Copa and is 6/1 to open the scoring tonight – or Matias Fernandez, but also strikers like Argentinean-born Gustavo Canales, whom Borghi had picked before the night out for what could be his first cap, and Eduardo Vargas.
Both of these men have been crucial for Universidad de Chile lately and Vargas also netted against Peru in Chile’s previous qualifier.
It might be worth remembering Esteban Paredes (whose partnership alongside Equi Miralles at Colo-Colo reminded me of the Tevez-Rooney pairing) and Milovan Mirosevic, though the latter was only drafted in after the ‘incident’ and is unlikely to feature.
The question is, will Uruguay be that efficient in attack against a side looking for a draw? After all, they have, in general, struggled to integrate Napoli starlet Cavani into the fold.
The team played much better without him in the Copa America and even more so with the now absent Diego Forlan. There is a chance then, albeit a slim one, that the Chilean Five (I really hope the tag sticks) incident might be put to one side as their replacements step up to the plate and snatch a draw, with a 1-1 scoreline being among the most likely at 6/1.
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