Uruguay and Ecuador meet in their Copa America Group C opener at the Estádio Mineirão, in Belo Horizonte. The match takes place on Sunday evening, kicking off at 7:00pm local time in Brazil, which is at 11:00pm UK time. In an expectedly tight group, the two teams will want to get off to a winning start.

Uruguay

Uruguay are the most successful side in Copa America history, winning the tournament 15 times. Along with two World Cup triumphs, they can consider themselves the 2nd most prominent side in South America, behind hosts Brazil. Uruguay last won this tournament back in 2011, one year after reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup – a real golden era for this national team. Since winning the tournament, they have put on two disappointing displays in 2015 and 2016, with the first ending in a quarter final elimination followed by a group exit in the latter. The squad boast an attacking line-up of Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez up front, and also have the defensive duo of Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin which is arguably the best defensive partnership at this tournament. In addition to that, Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira looks to add more steel in the middle. Uruguay are 3rd favourites to win, and will want to reach the latter stages again.

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Ecuador

Ecuador are one of the few teams who have yet to win this tournament, but more disappointingly have never made it to a final. Ecuador didn’t qualify for the last World Cup, and failed to progress out the group stage in the 2015 Copa America. In the 2016 Copa America, they managed to qualify in a group ahead of Brazil, but were beaten 2-1 by hosts USA at the quarter final stage. Most notable players for Ecuador down the years were the Valencia’s, with Antonio and Enner both playing in the Premier League. The former isn’t fit enough to be selected, but Enner is still a prominent player in the squad. Ecuador come into this fixture having narrowly lost to Mexico 3-2 in a friendly. They haven’t won a competitive match since beating Venezuela in 2016. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Ecuador are big outsiders to win the competition, with only Qatar given longer odds by most bookmakers.

Head to Head

The two teams have met 47 times in their history, with Uruguay incredibly dominant with 30 wins, with Ecuador only winning on six occasions. In fact, Uruguay won the first ever 14 meetings between the sides from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. Unbelievably, in recent times, Ecuador have had more joy, beating Uruguay in two of their last three meetings, both at home by 1-0 and 2-1 score lines. Uruguay have only won twice in their last seven meetings with Ecuador. Aside from their World Cup qualification matches, they have only met each other once at the Copa America in the last five tournaments. On that occasion, Diego Forlan was one of the name on the scoresheets as Uruguay won 2-1 in a group stage match.

Predictions and Betting Tips

Uruguay are 3/4 favourites to kick-start their campaign with a victory, with Ecuador priced at 4/1. For the sides to draw, that is at 9/4. It’d be tough to back against Uruguay here, so I anticipate them winning narrowly in a 1-0 result at 4/1. Ecuador don’t have a huge attacking threat, and with Uruguay being able to defend so superbly, one goal should be enough for them to get three points. For goal scorers, whilst many will tip Suarez and Cavani, I’d recommend backing young striker Maximiliano Gómez González to score first at 6/1, who started and scored in their recent friendly. For the visitors, you will be rewarded greatly if you back them in any way, so do consider betting on them to draw or win (double chance), at 1/1, or even to lead at half time at 9/2. Finally, I don’t see many goals occurring in this match from the get go, so I’d be patient and back the first goal to come from minute 61 to 70, at 12/1.

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