With 15 Copa América trophies and two World Cup titles, including the first World Cup in 1930, Uruguay are international soccer royalty. But it may not be fully appreciated given that Uruguay have only won one major trophy (the 2011 Copa América) since the turn of the century. La Celeste have qualified for the knockout stage at each of the last three World Cups, but their run to the 2010 semi-finals remains their greatest recent achievement.
Óscar Tabárez, the architect of that 2010 team and manager of Uruguay’s last three World Cup races, was fired in December due to the country’s poor form in the World Cup qualifiers, which included just two wins in the first seven qualifiers as well as four straight losses. at the time of his departure. Former Inter Miami coach Diego Alonso led the team to four consecutive qualifying victories and a ticket to Qatar.
La Celeste have lost just once under Alonso – a 1-0 friendly loss to Iran in September – in nine matches, including seven wins. But Alonso will face some challenges in Qatar and features an attack that still relies on aging superstars like Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez, who have already appeared at three World Cups.
Group H schedule (all times Eastern)
– South Korea, November 24, 8 a.m.
– Portugal, Nov. 28, 2 p.m.
– Ghana, December 2, 10 p.m.
Diego Alonsohired in December 2021
Players to watch
Luis Suarez, striker
Despite his age, the 35-year-old striker is still a major part of this Uruguayan side. Suárez finished second in the scoring charts in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying with eight goals en route to qualifying for his fourth World Cup. The former Barcelona and Liverpool star has scored seven goals in his World Cup career, one behind the Uruguayan record. After two years with Atlético Madrid, Suárez returned to Uruguay with Nacional, where he scored eight goals in 14 appearances.
Edinson Cavani, striker
With 58 international goals, the iconic striker trails only Suárez (68) on Uruguay’s all-time goalscoring list. And, like Suárez, he is still heavily used by La Celeste despite being 35 and in the twilight of his career. Since joining Valencia in La Liga in the summer, Cavani has scored four goals in seven appearances, although his campaign has been cut short by injuries including an ankle problem which could affect him at the World Cup. Still, having scored three of the country’s seven goals in Russia, Cavani is set to contribute to some big moments in Qatar.
Federico Valverde, midfielder
The versatile midfielder has really established himself at Real Madrid over the past year. And after starting in the Champions League final and winning the trophy, Valverde burst with a career season. The 24-year-old has already set a career goalscoring record with eight appearances in 18 games this season and has become a vital part of Carlo Ancelotti’s setup. With the national team, Valverde can play on the wing, in defensive midfield or even as a fullback. His work rate is second to none and his distribution will be key to powering Uruguay’s attack.
Candidate in small groups
Darwin Núñez, striker
The 23-year-old is a dynamic striker who seems to have all the tools in the box to be one of the best strikers in the world. Núñez is a commanding presence in the box, but also has breakaway speed and amazing agility for his size. After scoring 26 league goals in 28 appearances for Benfica last season, Liverpool achieved a club record for Núñez this summer (the fee could reach $100m), where he scored seven goals in 17 games so far. here. Núñez has scored just once so far this year for Uruguay (in September’s 2-0 friendly win over Canada) but will be counted on to shine at his first World Cup .
world cup history
– 14th appearance
– Last appearance: 2018 (Quarter-Finals)
– Best finish: Winner in 1930 and 1950
Outlook and expectations
Tabárez’s teams have raised the bar to the point that Uruguay have once again become a renowned international power. But it also means that the expectations of every major tournament will follow, and having at least reached the quarter-finals in two of their last three tournaments, many will expect Uruguay to make a deep run in Qatar with a group of seasoned and future veterans. stars.
The problem is that they will face a strong push from Portugal as group favourites, and whoever finishes second in the group will likely face World Cup favorites Brazil in the round of 16. The key may not be Uruguay’s vaunted attack, but their defence, which is too old in some positions and too inexperienced in others. Portugal and South Korea will test that defense in the group stage, and Uruguay’s fate could very well be decided early. But a strong midfield in Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur should give La Celeste hope going forward.
World Cup team
GUARDIANS: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Sergio Rochet (Nacional), Sebastian Sosa (Independiente)
DEFENDERS: Ronald Araujo (Barcelona), Martín Cáceres (LA Galaxy), Sebastián Coates (Sporting CP), José Giménez (Atlético Madrid), Diego Godín (Velez Sarsfield), Mathías Olivera (Napoli), José Luis Rodriguez (Nacional), Guillermo Varela (Flamengo), Matías Vina (Rome)
MIDFIELDSGiorgian de Arrascaeta (Flamengo), Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham), Nicolás de la Cruz (River Plate), Lucas Torreira (Galatasaray), Manuel Ugarte (Sporting CP), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Matías Vecino (Lazio)
FORWARDERS: Agustín Cannobio (Athletico Paranaense), Edinson Cavani (Valencia), Maxi Gómez (Trabzonspor), Darwin Núñez (Liverpool), Facundo Pellistri (Manchester United), Luis Suárez (Nacional), Facundo Torres (Orlando City)
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