Torreira relishing Uruguay's intense battle with Brazil on Emirates Stadium home soil
PUBLISHED: 19:00 15 November 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira says the intense rivalry between Uruguay and Brazil will make their encounter at the Emirates Stadium a competitive and full-blooded affair.
Torreira only made his debut at the China Cup in march, but has become a mainstay for Uruguay, starring for Oscar Tabárez’s men at the World Cup in Russia.
His man-marking job on Cristiano Ronaldo during Uruguay’s last-16 encounter with Portugal particularly caught the eye, while he has built upon that form with Arsenal in the Premier League this campaign.
After arriving in the summer from Sampdoria, Torreira has established a disciplined, defensive shield alongside Switzerland international Granit Xhaka as the Gunners have gone on a long unbeaten run in all competitions.
And the 22-year-old developing a feared reputation is looking forward to going toe-to-toe with Brazil’s star turns, including the likes of Neymar and Gabriel Jesus on ‘home turf’.
“It will be an awesome game,” said Torreira. “It’s a friendly but it’s still such an important game. Every time you pull on your national team’s jersey you are giving it all your strength and taking it seriously.
“We want the result to go our way, but the important thing is the team looks good and it feels like we are continuing to grow.
“We’ve got to maintain our calm as a product of the coaching and show the growth of their team. And now, the clash with Brazil should be a great match. They didn’t do brilliantly at the World Cup, but it’s a team that is always good to watch with players who know how to play nice football.
“They take pride in wearing the yellow jersey and it will be a good match but hopefully we can come out with the win.
“I haven’t had to face Neymar yet, but he’s obviously a fantastic player who is great to watch and every time he has the ball you feel he is about to do something magnificent and entertain the fans.
“It will be a great game against Brazil and Neymar will have a big part in that. It will be up to us to be careful of him during the game because he’s so dangerous. He’s one of the best forwards in the world and we’ll have to be aware of how dangerous he is on the ball.”
Uruguay may have been eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the World Cup, losing to eventual winners France, but Torreira insists his team’s performance is still something to be proud of.
On their day the Uruguayan team is a match for anyone in world football and will once again unleash star attacking duo, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, at the Emirates.
Comparatively, Brazil suffered a disappointing World Cup, losing to eventual semi-finalists Belgium in the last eight and Torreira is determined to heap further misery on them.
“We were knocked out by the World Cup champions and a very good side, but it was a World Cup with a lot of similar teams with not much between them,” he added.
“A lot of well-fancied teams went out early, there were some strange results and it felt like lots of teams could have won the tournament.
“Up until the final there were a lot of tight games that came right down to the final whistle.
“Eventually I suppose I am going to be very satisfied and content with how Uruguay and the players did because we made it to the quarter-finals and lost to the champions and did the best of any South American side.
“The World Cup was also very important because we had about eight players in the squad who hadn’t been part of such an important tournament before.
“Nothing is easy at a World Cup, in any match, there are so many people watching and so much pressure. It’s such a different environment and feeling when it’s elimination football.
“But there’s a new generation in Uruguayan football that is growing, and we have learned from playing in the biggest tournament in football, which is important.
“I didn’t really have any specific Brazilian players I looked up to growing up. Obviously though, Brazil have had so many players that have had an important role in the history of football, like Ronaldinho and Ronaldo and Rivaldo. Lots of players have had an impact.
“They have found a great, young generation of Brazilian players now, many of whom are in the Premier League.”
*Brazil take on Uruguay in an international friendly at Emirates Stadium, London on Friday November 16 (8pm). Tickets from £30 on sale at www.arsenal.com/tickets.