| Brazilian striker Adriano Ribeiro (left) and Vagner Love during a training session in Lima on Monday. (AFP)
Lima: Brazil are bracing themselves for a bruising, tough tackling clash with Uruguay in their Copa America semi-final on Wednesday.
The world champions finally came to life back at sea level against Mexico on Sunday, winning their quarter final 4-0 after a series of pallid performances in the high-altitude southern city of Arequipa. Despite being without top players such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos and Kaka, Brazil know they will not have the space in midfield they enjoyed against Mexico.
“Uruguay are not going to allow us to play our open, passing game. They’ll mark hard and clamp us down,” midfielder Alex said before training in the Peruvian capital on Monday.
Uruguay look a different side from the one that made a terrible start to World Cup qualification where they experimented with a risky attacking approach under former coach Juan Ramon Carrasco.
Since Jorge Fossati took over, the team has returned to their traditional style of tactical discipline and gamesmanship.
“I think the secret is for us to try to hold up the ball and keep possession. We must not let ourselves play at Uruguay’s pace,” said striker Adriano, who scored two second-half goals against Mexico to take his tally to five in the tournament.
Defender Gustavo Nery said that despite Brazil’s strong performance against Mexico, the team had yet to prove itself at the Copa America, especially after their surprise defeat against Paraguay in the group stage. “We haven’t conquered anyone yet. Really, we are just starting to get going,” Nery said.
Brazil lost 1-2 to 10-man Paraguay, ground out a 1-0 win over Chile and struggled to shine despite the scoreline in a 4-1 win against Costa Rica.
Uruguay captain Paolo Montero is battling a stomach problem and could miss the semi-final against Brazil, coach Fossati said. Montero, one of South American football’s toughest defenders, sat out his team’s quarter final win against Paraguay because of a groin strain and is now undergoing treatment for gastritis.
“I won’t rule him out yet because I want to see how he is on Tuesday, but he is the only player in doubt right now,” Fossati said. The 32-year-old, who plays his club football for Juventus in Italy, made his international comeback at the Copa America, two years after quitting the team at the end of the 2002 World Cup.
But Fossati said he did not expect Montero’s absence to cause problems against Brazil, a match he did not see as any more difficult than Uruguay’s group games against Argentina and Mexico.
“We are getting better, nothing marvellous, but better. Brazil has been playing pretty average until now. To say this is our toughest game would be to show a lack of respect for Mexico and Argentina,” Fossati said. Fossati is credited with ending Uruguay’s dismal form in the World Cup qualifiers where they experimented with a risky attacking approach under eccentric former coach Juan Ramon Carrasco. The team overcame Paraguay 3-1 in their quarter final after drawing 2-2 with Mexico, beating Ecuador 2-1 and losing to Argentina 2-4 in the group stage.
Since Fossati took over, the team has returned to their traditional style of tactical discipline. Fossati said recently that one of the main reasons for recent defeats was that Uruguay failed to pick up enough yellow cards. (Reuters)