Brazil take on Uruguay in Copa semis

The continental heavyweights face off against one another on Tuesday for a berth in the Copa America final, each emboldened by their high-scoring blowouts.

updated: July 11, 2007 15:42 IST
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Maracaibo, Venezuela:

Whatever glimmer came off the reputations of Brazil and Uruguay during the first round of the Copa America certainly was polished during the quarterfinals.

Both continental heavyweights redeemed themselves with one-sided victories over the weekend and face off against one another on Tuesday for a berth in the final, each emboldened by their high-scoring blowouts.

With two goals by Robinho, Brazil thumped Chile 6-1 on Saturday and received praise for rediscovering their "jogo bonito," or beautiful play, expected of the defending and five-time World Cup champion.

Uruguay was less flashy, but equally effective in its 4-1 romp of host Venezuela.

Now in the semis, both teams need to prove their resurrection was no accident.

A victory sends the winner to Sunday's final in Maracaibo against either Argentina or Mexico, who play Wednesday in Puerto Ordaz.

Uruguay hasn't defeated the Brazilians in the Copa America since the 1995 final at home in Montevideo. Since then, Brazil won the 1999 final, and on penalties three years ago in the semifinals in Peru.

Historically, the Charruas have fared better at the South American championship, having won a tournament-best 14 titles _ the same number as Argentina. Brazil is a distant third with seven titles.

Although less celebrated than the classic between Brazil and Argentina, the Selecao's rivalry with Uruguay has its own lore. Uruguay's biggest victory was a 2-1 shocker to win the 1950 World Cup, played in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium before a crowed estimated to be over 200,000.

The upset known as the Maracanazo still haunts Brazilians, who hosted the 1950 tournament as the outright favorite.

"For Uruguay, it's something special to play against Brazil," manager Oscar Tabarez said Monday at the team's training site in Maracaibo. "But that doesn't mean we don't have the utmost respect for their capabilities."

Both teams will be at full strength, though Tabarez said Inter Milan forward Alvaro Recoba, who missed Uruguay's first two matches due to a leg injury, is not yet in peak form.

For Brazil, the 2006 Copa is shaping up to be the breakout tournament for Robinho, who took over the leadership role with more established regulars like Ronaldinho and Kaka having asked to be exempted.

The Real Madrid striker scored all of Brazil's four goals in its first round and added two more in the quarterfinal against Chile, in which the Brazilian midfield also finally gelled.

With six goals, he leads the tournament's and is within two of Pele's eight goals at the 1959 Copa. The record of nine is held by Brazil Jair Rosa Pinto in 1949 and by Argentina's Humberto Maschio and Uruguay's Javier Ambrois in 1957.

Diego Forlan, who scored two of Uruguay's goals against Chile, also seems to be finding his form after a scoreless first round.

Uruguay advanced to the quarterfinals despite scoring only one goal, the fewest of anybody in the 12-nation tournament. But its rout over Chile put Brazil on notice.

"Uruguay always plays better in the decisive games," Brazilian manager Dunga said Monday. "Not only do they have history and tradition on their side, but they've got great players."