Uruguay Sits As Heavy Favorites To Beat Panama


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Uruguay Sits As Heavy Favorites To Beat Panama

Uruguay will aim to make a winning start to their Copa America group stage campaign when they face Panama in Miami on Sunday. La Celeste warmed up for this tournament with an impressive 4-0 win against Mexico, so the players should be in a buoyant mood. They are the heavy favorites to beat Panama, but they cannot afford to be complacent.

This will be the first meeting between these teams since June 2019. That was a friendly held in Montevideo, which Uruguay won 3-0. The Panamanians have improved since then, but they are still No. 45 in the FIFA world rankings, 30 places below Uruguay, so they are the clear underdogs for this game at +1000. On a brighter note, they have won nine of their last 15 matches, so they could cause problems for La Celeste’s defense this weekend.

Below is a full breakdown of Copa America odds.

Uruguay vs. Panama lines, totals, spread

Uruguay vs. Panama player props

Uruguay vs. Panama betting breakdown

Uruguay’s path to victory likely includes Darwin Núñez

Liverpool striker Darwin Núñez scored a hat-trick in Uruguay’s 4-0 victory over Mexico earlier this month. That took his tally to 11 goals in 23 games for his country. Núñez is an exceptionally talented forward, who brings pace and unpredictability to proceedings, but fans often find him infuriating, as he has a habit of missing simple chances.

He is an inconsistent player, but Uruguay manager Marcelo Bielsa is likely to build his attack around Núñez at this tournament. Bielsa likes his teams to play high-octane soccer, and Núñez is the perfect player for that approach. Veteran striker Luis Suárez provides Bielsa with an intriguing alternative, as he is Uruguay’s record goalscorer, but Bielsa should stick with the younger and more dynamic Núñez on Sunday. If he plays close to his full potential, he could cause all sorts of problems for Panama’s defense.

Panama might have to be more direct to win 

Los Canaleros often enjoy the lion’s share of possession in their games, but they struggle to create high-quality chances. For example, they had 59% of the ball in their CONCACAF Nations League semifinal against Mexico in March, but they ended up losing 3-0. Panama then had 62% of the possession against Jamaica in the third-place playoff match a few days later, but they lost 1-0.

The players often opt for a safe sideways pass rather than taking risks and trying to unlock the opposition’s defense. That was evident once again when they lost 1-0 to Paraguay in a pre-tournament friendly last weekend. They may need to throw caution to the wind and adopt a more direct approach if they are to secure a famous upset against Uruguay on Sunday.

Uruguay expected starting 11

Experienced goalkeeper Sergio Rochet should start in this game. Captain José Giménez will lead the defense, and Barcelona’s Ronald Araújo is a capable partner. We could see Sebastián Cáceres and Matías Viña as full-backs.

Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde will set the tempo in midfield. Rodrigo Bentancu and Manuel Ugarte are accomplished holding midfielders, although Flamengo’s Nicolás de la Cruz offers a more attacking option. Brian Rodríguez can also play in the No. 10 role if Valverde drops deeper. Darwin Núñez should lead the line in attack, flanked by Facundo Pellistri and Cristian Olivera or perhaps Maximiliano Araújo.

Panama expected starting 11

Orlando Mosquera is Panama’s first-choice goalkeeper. Manager Tomas Christiansen has experimented with a few different formations, but his preferred approach appears to be a 3-4-2-1 setup. If he sticks with that on Sunday, we could see a back-three of José Cordoba, Fidel Escobar, and Roderick Miller, with Michael Murillo and Eric Davis playing as wing-backs.

Captain Aníbal Godoy is the main man in midfield. He is now 34 years of age, so Cristian Martínez or Aladberto Carrasquilla could be selected to provide more youthful vitality alongside him. Cecilio Waterman, José Fajardo, and Ismael Díaz could form the attacking triumvirate, although José Luis Rodríguez offers an alternative option. Yoel Bárcenas is another experienced, versatile player, who could force his way into the starting XI.

Photo by Associated Press