By Greg Horgan and Simon Ainsworth

Uruguay has some exceptional players, match-winners who have to be shutdown for 90 minutes. They have named an extremely attacking formation with three strikers, two attacking midfielders, two attacking full backs and the Real Madrid rock Pablo Garcia holding it together. The team they have named is aimed at blowing this playoff out of the water in the first leg. There are many dangerous players, but they are not all in form.

Recoba will be dangerous but he is usually only used for a half. Strikers Morales and Silva are not getting much game time and have only scored 2 between them for their clubs. Zalayeta hardly gets a chance at Juventus but is one to be wary of – if only for the fact he plays at Juve.

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Perez is out of favour at Monaco so should be quite rusty. The two full backs are dangerous, especially Diogo from Real Madrid, he’ll get forward to join the attacks at every opportunity. However, his attacking play exposes Uruguay at the back and this is when we have to hit them.

If Australia can get Emerton, Chipperfield and Kewell (when he comes on) in space behind the wingbacks, Viduka should get the service he craves. He may be battling against the unforgiving Paolo Montero but Viduka’s Croatia-via-Preston-built frame should provide enough chances for either himself or the players joining the attack from midfield for an Australian away goal.

The most important man in this Australian campaign though is Guus Hiddink – one of the great football coaches. Thanks to Guus, this campaign we are better educated technically, more tactically aware and we have an experienced coach who can draw the very best from his players, can see when a game is changing, and can act on the change.

It is rare for Uruguay to be beaten at home but they have a terrible away record. We want to hold on for a scoring draw. Even a 2-1 loss is not bad at all as they will concede away from home, mark my words.

It looks like Guus is going to play a 4-1-4-1 in Uruguay which will turn into a 3-1-4-2 when we have the ball. It seems Kewell will be used as an impact player off the bench, probably coming on at half time. The time has come for Mark Viduka to score the goals for Australia that are going to put us into a World Cup. Our defence is a weakness but the energy of Australia’s midfielders and the covering presence of Vince Grella could overcome our defensive short-comings.

Australia can score in Montevideo. It only takes one chance and there will probably be a few. Most importantly though, Australia must not let Uruguay break in front of the Australian defence. Caution will be necessary when going forward and we mustn’t let them play on the break as they did four years ago. Passing the ball to create openings in the Uruguay defence and keeping enough men back to stifle any attacks will be the key. It might not be the most
entertaining 7am Sunday morning rise, but it will be well worth it if Australia can bring something back for the second leg.

Read the full article here.