Saudi Arabia went into the opening match with great expectations after a very promising qualification campaign, where they finished above Australia. However, those hopes were swiftly dashed as they produced a woeful display to be thrashed by the hosts, and if they found life tough there then it won’t get any easier against an excellent Uruguay side.
The South American’s were a little slow to get going in their opener, but they only played one warm-up friendly and will surely improve as the competition progresses. They’ll certainly be far too good for a Saudi team that’s lost their last four matches and, moreover, that since 2011 has played seven matches on foreign soil (away or neutral games) against teams we had ranked inside the world’s top 20 and they’ve lost the lot, while trailing at half-time in all those defeats and with just two goals scored to 24 conceded.
A few of the Uruguayan’s will be licking their lips at the prospect of getting stuck into the Saudi defence and no one more so than Luis Suarez. This will be his 100th cap and after having a bit of a shocker against Egypt he’ll have even more incentive to impose himself.
He’s scored nine times in his last 13 tournament starts (World Cups, Copa Americas and Confederations Cups) and his finishing ability is hardly in question. Furthermore, he’s scored nine times in eight appearances against teams from the Asian confederation since 2010.
While Uruguay should win this with some ease we’d expect the Saudi’s to take a more defensive approach than against Russia, so another handful is probably unlikely. The clean sheet should be secure though, with 13 of their last 17 wins coming to nil. Furthermore, five of their last 14 wins have been by 3-0 scores, including three of their last four against teams we had ranked outside the world’s top 40.