Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez admitted there was a sense of “relief” to be facing a Brazil side without Neymar in World Cup qualifying.
Brazil’s perfect record in World Cup 2022 qualifying will be put to the test in Montevideo on Tuesday, and they will be without Neymar due to a thigh injury.
Uruguay will be without a key player of their own after star forward Luis Suarez tested positive for coronavirus.
While unsure if Neymar’s absence would give Uruguay an advantage, Tabarez said he was relieved.
“Neymar is among the great players of today and beyond fulfilling obligations of tasks that he has to do at the defensive level, in attack he is very prominent … it shows that in Brazil space is given to his individual creativity,” he told a news conference.
“That makes the Brazilian attack stronger because of his speed, his technique, his one-on-one decision, his persistence and his winning mentality. He is very happy when he wins and hot when he loses. This is the type of player who feels like football and plays to achieve things.
“That he is not here tomorrow, I do not know if it will be an advantage for us, but if it is some relief, apart from the fact that Brazil have great forwards.
“We face the best team of these qualifiers, of the past and of many more.”
Uruguay have grabbed six points from their opening three qualifiers, but they are winless in their previous 10 meetings with Brazil.
They are coming off a 3-0 win over Colombia as Edinson Cavani, Suarez and Darwin Nunez scored.
Tabarez revealed Cavani was dealing with a blister while playing 78 minutes against Colombia, having had limited game time since joining Manchester United.
“Edinson Cavani, after having had a long time away from the pitches and training, since March of this year, he reappeared at Manchester United in the last minutes of the games and in one of them he scored a goal, which is very important for a scorer like him,” he said.
“That was the immediate previous experience, and now he played 78 minutes with some problems, a very annoying blister, but he showed great dedication and a lot of intelligence in his interventions.”