Could Uruguay be dark horses at the World Cup?

Could Uruguay be dark horses at the World Cup?

Every person holds a different opinion towards which nation will win the World Cup. Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Spain are amongst the favourites, but what about Uruguay?

Dominic Scott-Bone

Uruguay have gone under the radar in the run up to this tournament but should not be belittled.

They have a squad possessing an array of leaders and serious attacking prowess that could hurt any opposition, and attained more points than both Argentina and Colombia in the South American Qualifiers.

Placed in what could be seen as the 'easiest' group, La Celeste should progress through to the knockout stages with ease. However, whether they top the group or finish second, a round of 16 fixture versus Portugal or Spain from Group B is on the cards.

Head coach Óscar Tabárez, though, has an impressive set of players at his disposal, so a strong World Cup run is a huge possibility.

The importance of the spine

Fernando Muslera, Diego Godín, José Giménez, Rodrigo Bentancur,
Matías Vecino, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez.

These seven Uruguayans outline the likely core of Tabárez's World Cup eleven.

This spine represents a vast amount of experience and know-how, particularly through the likes of Godin, Cavani and Suarez who have enjoyed plenty of European success at club level which could serve the South American side so well this summer.

Alongside these three, Martín Silva, Martín Cáceres, Maxi Pereira and Muslera have also much experience on the international stage and will be participating in their third World Cup.

With an amalgamation of this experience and youth from the likes of Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Lucas Torreira and Bentancur this crop of players should not be underestimated.

The Atlético Madrid pair

Between Godín and Giménez, the pair made 66 appearances in all competitions for Atleti this season.

The La Liga side underperformed in Europe, but the Uruguayan duo were influential in finishing second to Barcelona and getting one over local rivals Real who positioned third in the league.

Godín is touted as one of the world's best defenders and with this superior physical presence and reassurance at the back for La Celeste, there is a real chance of outside success under his captaincy in Russia.

Goals Goals Goals

To write off a nation which has two world class strikers fronting their attack would be naive.

Albeit in the French division, Cavani has been in prolific goalscoring form with 37 goals in all competitions for Paris Saint Germain.

25 of these were netted from 30 appearances in Ligue 1, which was akin to national strike partner, Suarez, who ended with 23 goals in 28 games.

If the Barcelona forward can keep as composed in physical and verbal altercations as he does in front of goal, Uruguay could put themselves right up there with the top nations. 

Between the two prolific goalscorers there is a strong chance in securing the golden boot this summer, this would be the first in Uruguay's World Cup history.


Youth and dynamism

As mentioned previously there are several new faces among the Uruguayan ranks than from previous tournaments. Midfielders such as Bentancur, Torreira and De Arrascaeta have now enhanced the squad with a variety of flair.

In South Africa, Uruguay reached the semi-finals with a squad that certainly lacked the depth and talent of this one, especially in midfield which has now been redeveloped.

Bentancur and Torreira have both been playing in the Serie A for Juventus and Sampdoria respectively. The young central midfielders have caught the eye in Italy for much of this season earning them a place in the final 23-man-squad. Despite both impressing it will be unlikely that Tabárez starts them together, but it does provide an interesting dilemma ahead of the tournament.


Experienced manager at the helm

There has been a prodigious amount of people speculating on choices made by certain international managers.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has been at the centre of attention after leaving Radja Nainggolan out of his final team for 'tactical' reasons.

Didier Deschamps' incapabilitites have also been notified, since showcasing his inability to utilise the monumental talent at his disposal during the 2016 European Championships.

Japan also have had managerial issues with Vahid Halilhodzic's sacking in April after demonstrating that he was ready to drop three attacking stars in Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki.

Akira Nishino has therefore had just two months to prepare in a problematic period for the Samurai Blue.

Uruguay however have a manager with an abundance of experience.

Tabárez has been at the helm of the nation's football team since 2006 and hence has vast knowledge of Uruguayan football.

Under his leadership he took the South American country to the semi-final in 2010, and it would be ignorant to write them off eight years on.