The most interesting thing about Uruguay you’re going to want to impress people with at the bar is the fact that they are four-time world champions. Now, anyone with any knowledge of football will point out to you that they won the World Cup twice only, not four times. But this, however, ignores that until the start of the World Cup in 1930, the winners of the Olympics’ football tournament were considered by FIFA to be world champions. This tiny Latin American country of 4 million has not only won the World Cup twice in 1930 and 1950, but also the Olympics football tournament in 1924 and 1928.
This isn’t just some nifty piece of trivia; it speaks of the massive historical pedigree of Uruguay. Up until the 1950’s, this tiny South American country was considered one of the strongest powerhouses of the game. They were the Brazil of that era.
The greatest moment in the country’s history was beating Brazil in Rio de Janeiro to lift the 1950 World Cup in one of the most memorable matches in history. That year, for the first and only time, there was no final match but only a final group of four teams. In the last game, Brazil only needed a draw to claim the title. In the monumental Maracana, with 200,000 fans cheering them on, they were so confident of doing it they had started their celebrations before the match. And yet, somehow, the Uruguayans kept their cool and beat the Brazilians. This day has lived on to traumatize Brazilians to this day.
Times have changed however, and the past sixty years have not been as bright for the Uruguayans. They did make the semi-final in 1954 and 1970, but since then, have never made it past the second round. They even failed to qualify in 1958, 1978, 1982, 1994, 1998 and 2006. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is Uruguay’s reputation as a dirty and physically strong team. Don’t be too surprised to see them collect some cards.
This year La Celeste have a decent team put together. They seem to be playing a nice 3-5-2 (to which I’m partial) with two good wing-backs in Maxi Perreira on the right and Alvaro Perreira on the left. Napoli’s Walter Gargano is a decent defensive midfielder in the middle. Diego Forlan has been consistently excellent with Atletico Madrid and Villareal over the past few years, and is on particularly good form recently. But their key man could be the highly promising 23-year-old Ajax striker Luis Suarez, who has just completed an incredible season scoring 49 goals in 48 games, including 35 league goals, the highest tally in all of Europe. Together, Forlan and Suarez constitute one of the most fearful and traditional strike partnerships in the world. This is not a ‘little-large’ or ‘scorer-supporter’ complimentary combo of forwards; this is a no-nonsense partnership of two complete strikers who can do everything. You don’t get to see these often these days and I for one will be very eager to see it.
With Suarez and Forlan in scintillating form lately, this Uruguay team should get goals. Considering that they play in a defensive style with pretty much seven players assigned primarily defensive duties, they should be tough to score against. The team has been playing together well for a while, and they could impress. Don’t be surprised to see them through to the second round.
For extensive Uruguay coverage, you should definitely check out my good friend Davy’s World Cup blog. Davy, a Liverpool-supporting Scouser, is nuts for the Uruguayans. He’s been in South Africa for a few weeks already, preparing for the World Cup and documenting his travails on his blog.
You can also follow his tweets here: http://twitter.com/LosCharruas
Squad list, linked to player profiles in FIFA.com:
- 2 Diego LUGANO
- 3 Diego GODIN
- 4 Jorge FUCILE
- 6 Mauricio VICTORINO
- 16 Maximiliano PEREIRA
- 19 Andres SCOTTI
- 22 Martin CACERES
- 5 Walter GARGANO
- 8 Sebastian EGUREN
- 11 Alvaro PEREIRA
- 14 Nicolas LODEIRO
- 15 Diego PEREZ
- 17 Egidio AREVALO
- 18 Ignacio GONZALEZ
- 20 Alvaro FERNANDEZ