FormUruguay v France 0-0, v South Africa 3-0, v Mexico 2-0, v South Korea 2-1
Ghana v Serbia 1-0, v Australia 1-1, v Germany 0-1, v USA 2-1 (aet)
Uruguay have fairly cruised to this stage. The solidity of their defence spreads confidence and enables them to play with measured ambition – hastiness has been absent from their build-ups, as they know they probably need to penetrate only once. After comfortable victories over South Africa and Mexico, this poise briefly lapsed into complacency in their last-16 game, when they conceded a sloppy goal to South Korea before cranking into a higher gear. Ghana have been quite solid too, even the reputedly dodgy goalkeeper Richard Kingson, and they could have finished top of their group if they had taken more chances they created against Australia and Germany. Poor decision-making in front of goal was the primary reason they had to go to extra-time to beat the USA in the last round.
Previous meetingsNever met before – some of Ghana's players do have happy memories of meeting Uruguay. Six of the Black Stars' squad met their youngsters in the group stages of last year's Under-20 World Cup and drew 2-2 before going on to win the tournament. None of the Uruguay players that day haves progressed to the senior squad yet.
ManagersOscar Tabárez v Milovan Rajevac
If the outcome of this match were determined by the managers' CVs, Uruguay would already be in the next round. Tabárez has coached seven of the biggest clubs in South America, was hired by Milan to replace Fabio Capello in 1996, and was in charge of Uruguay for Italia 90. Milovan Rajevac, by contrast, was virtually unknown outside his native Serbia before being appointed by Ghana two years ago and even in his homeland he was not considered a man for the big jobs, his reputation having been made delivering modest success to middling clubs. He did have a brief stint as caretaker boss of Red Star Belgrade in 2004 but was replaced after two games, despite winning them both. After his early games with Ghana he was castigated by fans for the perceived negativity of his approach, but resentment turned to respect when he guided a youthful team to January's Africa Cup of Nations final. The team now have a clear, solid and fluent style that enables them to overcome losses of individual players, most notably Michael Essien.
Key clashDiego Forlán v John Mensah
Powerful and disciplined, Mensah has been a pillar in the middle of Ghana's defence so far in the tournament despite persistent back trouble and no centre-forward has succeeded in dragging him out of position. Forlán, however, is of a higher calibre than any striker Mensah has faced so far and he will provide a stringent test of the defender's mobility. If Forlán does not exploit space himself, he can create it for his equally deadly partner, Luis Suárez, who has the wherewithal to take advantage of any rustiness shown by Isaac Vorsah, who, partly because of suspension, is expected to return to the starting line-up following injury. Dynamic holding midfielder Anthony Annan is likely to spend a lot of time helping out at the back.
ExpectationsGhana have already fulfilled their primary objective – to go farther than they did four years ago, when they were eliminated in the last 16. The players and staff all say being promoted to flagbearers of a continent following the elimination of the other African countries brings pride rather than pressure. Uruguay did not arrive with lofty expectations, having scraped into the tournament via a controversial play-off win over Costa Rica but, as things have turned out, failing to reach the semi-final would be considered a failure of sorts as there is a widespread belief that the draw has been kind to them this far and Ghana are eminently beatable.
This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.