Uruguay will play safe and stick with same names for Brazil
England’s Group D opponents Uruguay go into the World Cup this summer with high hopes following their recent successes. The last tournament in South Africa saw the small nation (approximately 3.3m population) reach the semis, while they won the most recent Copa America in Argentina in 2011 for a record 15th time.
Oscar Tabarez’s team are second-favourites both to top their pool, that also includes Italy and Costa Rica, at 7/4, and qualify to the knockout stage at 1/2.
Two-time World Cup winners Uruguay (first edition in 1930 and then 1950) are priced at 7/1 to repeat their feat in 2010 of getting eliminated in the semis, or 28/1 to win the competition a third occasion.
The qualifying stages for the tournament, however, did not go according to plan. Although Uruguay were unbeaten at home and finished five points ahead Venezuela in sixth, they lost lost five out of eight on the road.
Their recent games against the bigger nations have also not been promising as, since September 2012, they have lost to the likes of Colombia, Argentina, Spain (twice), Chile, Brazil and Italy.
Long-serving boss Tabarez (since 2006) has mainly used the same group of players in his tenure, and looks set to stick to his guns again.
He prefers to use two strikers, probably largely due to the fact they have such talent up front. Tabarez has the likes of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani of PSG and record capped Diego Forlan.
Cavani (40/1 to be top scorer in Brazil) was an ever-present in the World Cup South American qualifiers, and his work rate, presence and five goals from the 16 matches were crucial. He will partner Premier League leading marksman Suarez (18/1), and the duo are all set to cause mayhem.
The Liverpool world class star’s statistics this season have been jaw-dropping, as he has guided his club to first in the league so far. Suarez has 29 goals and created 12 assists in 29 appearances, and Uruguay’s all time record scorer also topped the goal charts in the qualifiers with 11 from 14 matches.
Ageing Forlan, 34, will provide quality backup. While Christian Stuani (who can play out on the wing) and Abel Hernandez will be vying out for a place in the squad.
Egidio Arevalo, who is currently on loan at Mexican club Morelia, will more than likely start in centre midfield. The 32-year-old played in all but one qualifying game, and his partner will be one of Alvaro Gonzalez, Diego Perez, Walter Gargano or Nicolas Lodeiro, who have all featured in recent international matches.
Atletico Madrid’s Cristian Rodriguez and Southampton attacker Gaston Ramirez have mainly been used as subs this season for their clubs, but will battle it out with Stuani to start out wide in Uruguay’s first game against Costa Rica on June 14th.
The centre back pairing will likely be national captain and West Brom player Diego Lugano, and Atletico star Diego Godin. The duo have been a mainstay in the lineup over the years and featured heavily in the qualifiers.
Liverpool’s forgotten man Sebastian Coates is now back in training following a long layoff out with a knee injury, and hopes to regain his place in the squad. Godin’s new 19-year-old clubmate Jose Maria Gimenez, meanwhile, hopes he can edge into a seat on the plane to Brazil.
Experienced full backs Martin Caceres of Juventus, Sao Paolo’s Alvaro Pereira and namesake Maxi Pereira of Benfica will make the roster, with the latter set to take the right sided position.
There is only one standout goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera. The Galatasaray stopper played in every minute of the qualifying campaign for Uruguay, and will be the number one, barring injury. Martin Silva, of Brazilian side Vasco da Gama – who played in both play-off games with Jordan – will be an able deputy.