Uruguay will host Northern Ireland (Irlanda del Norte) at the Centenario Stadium on Friday, May 30 (8:30 PM local time), in a pre-World Cup friendly match. This will be the last match for the Uruguay national team before their manager Óscar Tabarez confirms the 23-player list – they’ll play another friendly against Slovenia on June 4 prior to the tournament with the complete World Cup roster.
The most important Uruguayan player, striker Luis Suárez from Liverpool –who was the top scorer of the Premier League and won the player-of-the-season prize in that competition– won’t be available because he’s recovering after a knee surgery.
Suárez is in doubt for the World Cup, and he’s focusing in his recovery with the physiotherapist Walter Ferreira. His replacement on Friday will be Diego Forlán, who will be Edison Cavani’s partner in the attack zone.
Forlán is currently playing for Cerezo Osaka in the Japanese league. He was one of the most important players of the team that reached semifinals in South Africa 2010 World Cup and won the Americas Cup in 2011, but with 35 years his form isn’t the same and he would have been in the bench if Suárez had been fit.
Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godín won’t play on Friday either. Tabarez prefers to rest him, taking into account that he played very exhausting matches in the last weeks, against Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Other defender who was in doubt was left-back Martín Cáceres, who had an illness on Wednesday, but he trained with his partners on Thursday afternoon and he’ll finally play from the beginning against Northern Ireland.
Uruguay qualified to the World Cup after defeating Jordan in a play-off match by 5-0 in the aggregate. They’re in the Group D, a very difficult one since they’ll have to face two big teams like England (June 19 in Sao Paulo) and Italy (June 24 in Natal), while the first game will be against Costa Rica (June 14, Fortaleza).
On the other hand, Northern Ireland finished in the fifth place of the Group F in UEFA qualification and of course they won’t play in the World Cup, a tournament in which they only participated three times: Sweden 1958 (they reached quarter-finals), Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986.
In this qualification they played 10 matches, with 5 losses, 4 draws and only one win. Surprisingly, they defeated Russia, the team that finished at the first position, and they drew 1-1 against Portugal playing away.
Manager Michael O’Neill can’t rely on Manchester United defender Jonny Evans due to an injury, as well as Alex Bruce (Hull City), Lee Hodson (Milton Keynes Dons) and midfielder Ben Reeves (MKD too).
Meanwhile, the boss has named five uncapped players in the 22-players squad that went to South America to play against Uruguay and Chile (on June 4): Ryan McLaughlin, Trevor Carson, Paul Paton, Liam Donnelly and Luke McCullough.
O’Neill wanted the young Canadian-born striker Caolan Lavery to be part of the South American trip, but the Sheffield Wednesday player had to attend a family wedding in Canada and he couldn’t be part of the squad.
Nevertheless, the manager understood the situation as he said: “Caolan’s family live in Canada, so the wedding is an important event for them and the family circle – and I can fully understand that. It’s just a pity with the timing, because I wanted to give Caolan the opportunity in the senior team. He has been with the U21s and it would have been great to introduce him to the senior set-up.”
Northern Ireland currently hold the 84th place in the FIFA World Cup ranking, and a good result in Montevideo may help them to climb some positions, although it will be a very difficult match for them.
Uruguay (4-4-2): Fernando Muslera; Maximiliano Pereira, Diego Lugano, Sebstián Coates, Martín Cáceres; Egidio Arévalo Ríos, Walter Gargano, Cristian Rodríguez; Gastón Ramírez; Diego Forlán, Edinson Cavani.
Northern Ireland (4-5-1): Roy Carroll; Daniel Lafferty, Ryan McLaughlin, Christopher Baird, Aaron Hughes; Steven Davis, Paul Paton, Niall McGinn, Oliver Norwood , Martin Paterson; Jamie Ward.
Uruguay vs Northern Ireland Prediction
I think that this will be an easy match for Uruguay. They’re really better that Northern Ireland, a team that only achieved a victory over Russia in the last years. In addition, their main defenders are injured, and although Suárez won’t play, Uruguay has a great striker like Edison Cavani that can score many goals against a weak defense. My prediction is a 4-0 victory for Uruguay.
Uruguay vs Northern Ireland TV Schedule
The Uruguay vs Northern Ireland match will NOT be televised in the United States. For all other regions, check LiveSoccerTV.