Uruguay Preview – Suarez & Co. To Struggle
World Cup 2014
Despite possessing one of the most fearsome strikeforces in the world, Uruguay’s ageing squad may not have enough left in the tank to repeat their 2010 heroics.
Uruguay lost just one and won five of their last eight fixtures heading into immediate preparations for Brazil 2014. Most recently in major tournaments they reached the semi-finals, where they were narrowly beaten by Brazil, of the 2013 Confederations Cup, won the 2011 Copa America in Argentina, eliminating the hosts en route, and were semi-finalists at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Oscar Tabarez’s side are a well-oiled machine with plenty of experience and quality within their ranks.
But there is a feeling that this group of players are now coming to the end of their cycle and that this could be a tournament too far. Time will tell.
A fifth place finish in the CONEMBOL World Cup qualification group meant that Uruguay were required to negotiate a play-off match with Jordan in order to book their place in Brazil. La Celeste managed to get the job done with a minimum amount of fuss, winning 5-0 in Jordan before seeing out a goalless draw back on home soil.
Despite the fifth-place finish Luis Suarez was the top scorer in South American qualification with 11 goals. PSG’s Edinson Cavani also chipped in with a handy six goals for his country.
Uruguay’s chances at this summer’s World Cup rest largely on the fitness of Luis Suarez. The Liverpool striker underwent keyhole surgery on his knee towards the end of May, now both he and the nation will face an agonising wait to see if he will be fit enough to play a part in Brazil 2014.
The fact that Uruguay play Costa Rica in their opening match may mean that Tabarez will take Suarez with a view of introducing him five days later for the game against England. Big decisions will need to be made.
Although three points against a decent Costa Rica side is far from being a formality, having their first game against the Central Americans should be an advantage for Uruguay. Allowing them to ease their way into the tournament before decisive matches against England then Italy.
If they do make it out of Group D then an opponent from Group C awaits. Tabarez’s men will fancy their chances against any of Ivory Coast, Colombia, Japan or Greece for a place in the quarter-finals.
Boylesports go 25/1 that Uruguay repeat the feat of 1950 and win the World Cup on Brazilian soil. But is this a tournament too far for this group of players? A group of players that put Uruguayan football back on the map by reaching the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa and then claiming the Copa America crown in 2011. With a fully fit squad; maybe not. Without Suarez, though, it most definitely is.
Uruguay’s approach is to hit teams on the counter attack and grind out results. Tabarez is not ashamed to admit as much. But without the killer instinct of a fully fit Suarez at the point of their counter-attacks, their methods become ineffective. A fifth place finish in qualification was the first indication that this is a team in decline, failure to qualify from Group D – available to back at odds of 6/4 – will confirm that.