Uruguay head to Ecuador on Thursday as two teams to enjoy 100 per cent starts to CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying clash in Quito.
Oscar Tabarez’s side top the standings after two games, having beaten Bolivia 2-0 in La Paz before gaining revenge for their World Cup elimination to Colombia with a 3-0 home win over Jose Pekerman’s side.
Ecuador themselves have impressed, with victories against Argentina and Bolivia, leaving them behind Uruguay on goal difference alone.
The altitude in Quito typically plays into Ecuador’s hands, but Tabarez hopes that his side will be able to continue their fine form regardless.
“We are going to go into these matches with the same mentality,” said Tabarez. “We want to work hard on limiting the opponent, trying to create problems with the aim of getting points.
“We’re ready and are preparing.”
The visitors will give late checks to Cristhian Stuani (groin) and Martin Caceres (thigh), but are definitely without Jose Gimenez after the Atletico Madrid defender suffered a hamstring injury.
Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani is back to lead a forward line shorn of Luis Suarez for the final time as the Barcelona man serves the remaining two games of his suspension for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
Ecuador also have injury problems with the loss of key attacking duo Antonio Valencia and Enner Valencia.
Antonio Valencia’s foot injury has kept him out since Manchester United’s Premier League draw with rivals Manchester City on October 25 and he will not be ready for Thursday.
The winger’s absence is compounded by the loss of Enner Valencia, who has an ankle injury, however fellow striker Felipe Caicedo has scored in each of their victories so far in the campaign, which should keep coach Gustavo Quinteros confident.
The 27-year-old has scored four goals in his 10 Liga appearances for Espanyol this season, and netted in both previous qualifiers.
“We have lost important players,” Quinteros told Radio La Prensa. “But we have good alternatives to cover their absences.”
There has been little to separate the sides in the previous three qualification cycles, with three of their six encounters ending all square.
Uruguay left Quito with victory in October 2009, a fixture which saw Suarez equalise Antonio Valencia’s opener before Diego Forlan hit a 93rd-minute winner from the spot, but a solitary Jefferson Montero strike was enough for Ecuador to win when the sides’ last met.
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