Two-time World Cup winners (1930 and 1950), Uruguay had an extremely convincing start to their qualifying campaign, however they appeared to stumble later on, suffering three defeats in a six- game run that only saw one win. After making changes to the midfield, they emerged resurgent, and finished the qualifying campaign in relative ease. Although some of their star players are getting on in years, they have a wealth of talented youngsters coming through the ranks. This mix of older, experienced players, and younger, energetic talent puts Uruguay in a very strong position to compete for the title this summer.
Caution must still be followed though. It appears that coach Oscar Tabarez found tactics and players that worked well towards the end of the qualifying campaign, yet there are still areas of their game to worry about. Although established players such as Diego Godin, Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez still challenge and threaten opponents, there were a number of occasions where they found themselves exposed, to disastrous results. I would be surprised if Uruguay struggle to make it of the group, but they must be cautious that they do not go into this tournament overconfident. Egypt and Saudi Arabia both have pacey, counter-attacking players at their disposal, and a lack of pace in defence coupled with a tendency to press high up the pitch, was often the undoing of Uruguay during qualifying games.
- Edison Cavani (PSG) – Although he may be deemed as getting on in years, at least in footballing terms, at 30 years old, Cavani still maintains the pace that has seen him become the best striker in Ligue 1 in recent years. The top scorer in the South American qualifiers, Cavani demonstrated a depth to his game, leading the charge when Suarez was absent, and dropping deeper to act as provider to Suarez when the two played alongside each other. An absolute engine in fitness-terms, Cavani’s stamina may prove vital if Uruguay are to progress far this summer.
- Luis Suarez (Barcelona) – Uruguay’s all-time top goalscorer, there can be no denying that Suarez is one of the world’s best. The 31 year old is preparing for what will be his third World Cup finals appearance. Uruguay’s main attacking force, Suarez manages to combine speed and strength, and has an innate talent for getting himself into positions where he has the goal at his mercy. If there is one fault Suarez has, it is his discipline. Never too far away from controversy, Suarez will do his country no benefit by losing his cool and getting suspended. His temper is certainly something that will be targeted by opponents.
Oscar Tabarez – In charge of the National side since 2006, this will be Tabarez’s fourth World Cup finals managing Uruguay. The key to his team’s success this summer will lie in how well he can mix experience with youth.