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Written By Onyeka Daniel

The second game in Group C of the Copa America will be between Uruguay and Panama at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, with Chilean referee, Maza P in charge. It will be a clash between two teams with different objectives heading into this tournament. For Uruguay, qualifying for the knockout stage will be considered the barest minimum, while for Panama, a point will be highly celebrated.

Uruguay

Heading into this tournament, the trophy will be the target and they definitely have every reason to believe they can capture a record 16th title. Coached by enigmatic manager, Marcelo Bielsa, they’ve just only two defeats from their last 14 fixtures, with clean sheets in five of their last six including the two warm-up matches earlier this month against Mexico and Costa Rica.

Their recent loss to Ivory Coast will definitely be a source of worry to the former Leeds United coach. A real source of confidence will be the fact that they have not been beaten by a CONCACAF side in this competition since the previous time it took place in the United States (2016), losing 3-1 to Mexico.

Key Players: Liverpool striker, Darwin Nunez will be leading the attack, despite the inclusion of Luis Suarez in the squad, probably his last tournament, but the former Benfica forward is in form for his country, hitting a hat-trick inside 50 minutes against Mexico in Uruguay’s last game. He will also have the support of Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur in midfield while Ronald Araujo and Jose Maria Gimenez will marshal the defense.

Uruguay Possible Starting Lineup: Rochet; Nandez, Gimenez, Araujo, Olivera; Bentancur, Valverde; Pellistri, Rodriguez, De Arrascaeta; Nunez

Panama

For the Los Canaleros, they will be making their second appearance at the Copa America, and will be hoping to build on a solid start to their 2026 World Cup qualification campaign, winning their two qualifiers so far. With the help of their coach, Thomas Christiansen, who took on the role one month later in July 2020, they have been making steady progress.

In this group, they will be hoping to build on the success of their 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup final appearance, while also finishing fourth at the most recent Nations League. These results have also seen them climb up in the latest FIFA rankings, moving from 81st in 2020 to 43rd four years later.

It should be recalled that they got off to a winning start against Bolivia during their Copa América debut in 2016, but finished third in the group and did not progress after defeats against Argentina and Chile. In order not to have another group stage exit, they will have to show some spirited performances, especially against the bigger teams (Uruguay and USA), before facing Bolivia in their last group game.

Adalberto Carrasquilla will be a focal point for Panama in midfield. Named the best player at the 2023 Gold Cup, while Fajardo and Cecilio Waterman are their highest goal scorers chosen for this competition with 11 and 10 goals, respectively.

Panama Possible Starting Lineup: Mejia; I. Anderson, Cordoba, Miller; Murillo, Martinez, Carrasquilla, Davis; Barcenas, Diaz; Fajardo.

Read Also: Euro 2024: A Quick Slide Into Group E

Head To Head

The Le Celeste have won all four of the previous meetings, not conceding in the last three and thrashing the Panama 5-0 when they last met.

Verdict

Should be an easy win for the Le Celeste, just like their most recent meetings against this same opponent. Will probably be a sort of rehearsal ahead of their third game against USA, a match that could determine who tops the group. A 2-0 win, with a goal from Nunez.

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