Uruguay have no injury concerns but could make changes to the side that beat Egypt 1-0.
Winger Carlos Sanchez is tipped to start on the right, while the experienced Cristian Rodriguez could get the nod on the left wing after Giorgian De Arrascaeta failed to impress.
Saudi Arabia head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi could drop a number of players, with goalkeeper Abdullah Al Mayouf likely to replace Mohammed Al Owais.
Elsewhere, he may be tempted to start with Muhannad Assiri in the lone forward role in place of the ineffective Mohammed Al Sahlawi.
It may seem odd to talk about a potential managerial sacking just one game into a major tournament, but Saudi Arabia head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi may need a result in this match to keep his job. Pizzi described a “feeling of shame” after his side were thumped 5-0 by Russia on the opening day, and another inept performance here could see him removed from his position on Thursday morning.
Uruguay have no such managerial issues, with the 71-year-old Oscar Tabarez in his 12th year and second spell as boss. This game will be his 17th World Cup match and the wise old coach won’t have been that impressed with how his side played in their opening game, with La Celeste needing a late header from centre-back Jose Gimenez to snatch the points.
Uruguay will kick off knowing that a win will send them through to the knockout stage at a third consecutive World Cup. The South American side have never failed to get out of the group stage under Tabarez and it looks safe to assume that he’ll repeat that feat here. Defeat for Saudi Arabia would confirm their elimination.
- Saudi Arabia and Uruguay have never met at the World Cup.
- However, the Green Falcons are undefeated in their two previous games with Uruguay (W1, D1), both home friendlies.
- Uruguay could win their opening two matches of a World Cup for the first time since 1954.
- They have lost just one of their last nine World Cup group games (W5, D3), winning five of their last six.
- The Uruguayans have also won all three of their previous World Cup games against Asian opponents, scoring five and conceding just once.
- The last time they won their opening group game, a 2-0 victory over Israel in 1970, they went on to reach the semi-finals.
- Luis Suarez is set to win his 100th cap in this game. He’ll be the sixth Uruguayan to reach that milestone.
- This is Saudi Arabia’s 15th game at a World Cup but the first time they have ever faced South American opposition.
- The Saudis are on an 11-game winless run at the World Cup finals (D2, L9) dating back 24 years.
- Their last win was a 1-0 victory over Belgium in USA 1994.
- The Green Falcons have kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 World Cup games, conceding 37 goals during that spell.
- They have also conceded 14 headed goals since their World Cup debut in 1994, more than any other team in that period.
- Saudi Arabia have failed to score in eight of their last 10 World Cup games and didn’t register a shot on target in the 5-0 defeat to Russia on Thursday.
- The Saudis have finished bottom of their group in their last three World Cup appearances.
Source: BBC News