Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia
Venue: Rostov Arena
Kick off: 4:00pm
Uruguay will turn to experience as they look to secure victory against Saudi Arabia this afternoon and book their place in the last 16 of the World Cup.
The South American side are set to field a side containing seven players aged 31 or over in their Group A clash in Rostov-on-Don.
Cristian Rodriguez, 32, and Carlos Sanchez, 33, both came off the bench in Uruguay’s 1-0 opening win over Egypt, and head coach Oscar Tabarez will now give them the chance to start.
“It’s not about being young or experienced it’s due to the needs of the team for this game, and according to my information this is the line-up which will best suit us,” said Tabarez.
Rodriguez will make his 107th appearance for Uruguay on Wednesday while striker Luis Suarez will rack up a century of appearances for the national team and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera will reach 99 games.
Muslera will also tie Ladislao Mazurkiewicz as the player to have made the most appearances for Uruguay at a World Cup.
Tabarez’s preference for old hands Sanchez and Rodriguez, who play their football in Mexico and Uruguay respectively, may raise questions about the next generation of players in the squad, which is comprised of 10 players aged 30 or more, double the number that reached the semi-finals in 2010.
But the coach said his side’s wealth of experience was a strength.
“I have a lot of confidence in the team I’m going to put out tomorrow, they have a lot of experience,” added the 72-year-old, who has coached Uruguay since 2006.
“If I’ve learned one thing from being at the World Cup it’s that anything can happen. In South Africa, we used all of our players apart from the reserve goalkeepers. And just because I took some players off in the first game it doesn’t mean their tournament is over.”
Saudi Arabia were beaten 5-0 by Russia in their opening game.
They suffered a scare on Monday as there was reportedly a brief fire in one of the engines on the plane carrying the team.
But midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim said: “We forgot about it as soon as we got to the hotel. Actually both the first game and the plane incident are forgotten.”