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Uruguay

Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 00:20 GMT 01:20 UK
Uruguay's French experiment
Uruguay's Alvaro Recoba
Recoba will be supported by four midfielders
BBC Sport Online's Tim Vickery

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Uruguay will unleash plan B when they take on France in a vital match for both teams in Busan on Thursday.

Coach Victor Pua has bowed to the inevitable.

In the absence of a reliable right-back, he has done away with the position.

Instead Uruguay will take the field with three centre-backs, a formation with which Pua has been experimenting ever since last year's Copa America in Colombia.

Adopting the system for this match is something of a gamble - there is the risk that dangerman Thierry Henry will be able to find space on the flank.

But Uruguay hope to make it difficult for the French to bring Henry into the game, since their midfield marking will be far tighter than was the case in the opening game against Denmark.

In comes Marcelo Romero, a lithe defensive midfielder known as "the cat."

Romero is a talisman in case Zinedine Zidane makes a late recovery.

He plays his club football in Spain for Malaga, and had two good games against Zidane when his side met Real Madrid last season.

Pua looks set to stick with the twin strike partnership that failed to click against the Danes.

Sebastian Abreu, so disappointing last Saturday, is to be given another chance, though Federico Magallanes stands by in case injury forces Dario Silva to miss the game.

The key difference this time is that Alvaro Recoba will have four midfielders behind him rather than three.

With the team more compact it should be easier for Uruguay to get the ball to the feet of their star player.

Pua lives in hope that Recoba can hit the heights he reached away to Peru last year.

Pua had taken a look at the three centre-back formation in the Copa America, but the Peru match was the first time it was used in World Cup qualification.

Recoba instantly looked at home in the new formation.

Uruguay's coach Victor Pua
Pua's formation is designed with Recoba in mind

It was his best display of the campaign, where he scored his only goal en route to Japan and South Korea.

As is the case against France, the Peru match was a game Uruguay had to win.

The difference, of course, is the chasm in quality between the two opponents.

France are the reigning world and European champions, Peru a side who have not qualified for the World Cup in 20 years.

But the Fench defensive unit is ageing.

Senegal's El Hadji Diouf gave ample evidence of its vulnerability against someone who can run with the ball with pace and trickery.

Alvaro Recoba fits that desciption.

And if "El Chino" can produce his best, then it is even possible that France will become ex-world champions much sooner than they had expected.


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GROUP A
  P GD PTS
DENMARK 3 +3 7
SENEGAL 3 +1 5
URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1

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