Saturday May 31 2014

Uruguay the party poopers

Concerns remain about the fitness of Suarez who is

Concerns remain about the fitness of Suarez who is recovering from keyhole surgery. 

By Edward Ssekalo

To rub it in for the African continent, the Uruguayans denied Ghana a first-ever semi-final appearance in most controversial fashion. In 2011, La Celeste took their killjoy antics to Argentina, knocking out the host nation en route to winning the Copa America. Not that the Uruguayans find it as easy to secure World Cup qualification.

For the last two tournaments, passage to the finals has been achieved via the reprieve of a play-off after far from convincing displays in the South American qualifying section.

But La Celeste reserve their best form for the big stage as they showed in that surprise fourth-place finish at the World Cup four years ago. In that case, Group D opponents Italy, England and Costa Rica beware.

How they play: La Celeste are aggressive without being as vicious as they were in the past and perhaps with very pragmatic considerations—protecting a sluggish backline and utilising a pacy frontline—like to play on the counter as Oscar Tabarez’s sides are wont to do.

Strengths: Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are both Uruguayan. Their promise of goals is something to take to the bank. And they are not La Celeste’s only attacking threat, mind you.

Uruguay concedes almost as many as it scores. The team posted the worst defensive record of South America’s World Cup finalists, not surprisingly for an ageing defence.

Star Man: Luis Suarez can do anything and everything to win, but most of the headlines he has generated recently have been for tormenting—legally—defenders in the English Premier League. Even for a team with talents like Edinson Cavani Suarez is the man.

One to watch: Abel Hernandez introduced himself to the international stage with some impressive performances at last year’s Confederations Cup and it isn’t too much to expect more of the same on the bigger stage for the 23-year old Palermo forward.

Prospects: Uruguay’s obvious strength is in attack, but they have sufficient quality all around to make it out of their group at the expense of one of England or Italy. Another run to the semi-finals remains highly improbable but then, the ultimate party poopers could set up a quarter-final clash with hosts Brazil…

How they qualified: Beat Jordan in two-legged play-off
World Cup Appearances: 11
World Cup Record:1930 - Winners; 1934 - Did not enter; 1938 - Did not enter; 1950 - Winners; 1954 - Fourth place; 1962 - First round; 1966 - Quarter-finals; 1970 - Fourth place; 1974 - First round; 1986 - Second round; 1990 - Second round; 2002 - First round; 2010 - Fourth place
Overall Record: P47, W18, D12, L17
Best Performance: Winners in 1930 and 1950
World Cup High: Beating Brazil 2-1 at the Maracana Stadium in final of the 1950 World Cup for their second title
World Cup Low: Refusing to defend its crown at the 1934 World Cup to pay back after several European teams refused to take part in the 1930 edition the Uruguayans had hosted
World Cup Legend:
Alcides Ghiggia was the star as Uruguay triumphed in 1950, scoring the winning goal as La Celeste shocked hosts Brazil
Probable Line-up: Muslera, Caceres, Lugano (captain), Godin, Arevalo, Pereira, Rodriguez, Gonzalez, Lodeiro, Cavani, Suarez
FIFA Ranking: 7
Coach: Oscar Tabarez