Uruguay will be without star players Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani as they prepare to face Bolivia in Thursday’s World Cup qualifier.
The clash in La Paz is the opening game of WC qualifying in South America as 10 nations battle it out for four automatic spots to qualify for Russia 2018.
Suarez still has four games left of his nine-match suspension from last year’s World Cup, while Cavani received a two-game ban against Chile at the Copa America in June.
Championship duo Christian Stuani and Abel Hernandez are expected to start up front in place of the star pair.
The high altitude in La Paz always proves difficult for opponents, with Bolivia having lost only two of their home qualifiers in the last qualifying campaign.
Add that to the fact Uruguay have never won a game against Bolivia in La Paz and the favourites’ tag definitely goes to the home side.
“Statistically things haven’t gone well for us when we play in La Paz. It is very difficult and I don’t think this match will be any different,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said.
“In the short time left before the match we will work a lot on mental preparation which I think is important to reinforce the idea that we are going to look for wins in every match.
“It is difficult to play in these conditions but we have to endure it and focus on the soccer aspects. We are playing against Bolivia and not against the altitude.”
President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has even changed the working hours of the country to ensure there will be a full stadium for the afternoon kick-off.
The Bolivian players have been preparing for the contest in a different fashion, with head coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso taking the team to a military college to help instil discipline and commitment.
Bolivia’s last match finished in a 7-0 loss to Argentina, and Baldivieso is looking to begin the qualifiers with a win as the nation seek their first World Cup finals appearance since 1994.
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