Team Preview – Uruguay

Manager: The maestro of Uruguayan football is current national manager Oscar Tabarez. He is adored by players and fans and his experience unmatched in Uruguayan football. Tabarez first coached his beloved La celeste at the 1990 World Cup Finals before coaching Boca Juniors in Argentina and both Cagliari and AC Milan in Italy. His second spell in charge of Uruguay started in 2006 and he led his team to the semi-finals of South Africa 2010 and many expect the same result in Brazil. Tabarez is now 67 years old and after a professional playing career of 12 years has spent the last 30 years coaching at the highest level in South America and Europe.

Star player: Luis Suarez (Liverppol) There are few players who polarise opinion more than Suarez. He is equally loved and loathed by fans across the world and has a chequered disciplinary record. However when pulling on the light blue shirt of Uruguay, Suarez becomes a national hero and has thus far scored 38 goals in 77 appearances. Suarez was top scorer at the 2011 Copa America and may be in line for the Golden Boot in Brazil if form and fitness prevail.

Who to look out for: Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint Germain), Christian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid) and Maxi Pereira (Benfica) headline an incredible list of talent. The Uruguayan squad runs deep with an even mix of aggressive defenders, brilliant midfielders and explosive strikers.

The draw: Uruguay meets Costa Rica in Fortaleza on June 15 and should collect three points against the Ticos, ranked 34th and appearing in their 4th finals. England appear for the 13th time and are ranked 11th but are technically inferior to Uruguay, while four time winners Italy ranked 9th and appearing for the 18th time are regenerating their national team. Despite the tough opponents in this group, Uruguay are pleased with the draw and the order of matches.

Prediction: Semi-finals. Uruguay has a great opportunity to reach the stage they achieved four years ago in South Africa. They should top Group D with Italy second and should amass at least 7 points in the group stage. They will then cross over and meet the Group C runner up which could be Japan or Greece and then a massive last eight match with possibly; Spain. On South American soil and with the maestro Tabarez pulling the strings, Uruguay are capable of making the last four yet again.

Fact: The last time the World Cup was held in Brazil, Uruguay caused a massive shock by winning the tournament defeating the unbeatable hosts in the final at the Estadio Maracana. Brazil still mourns that day and Uruguay have held a spell over the neighbours ever since. It was 2009 before Brazil recorded their first win in World Cup qualification against their nemesis on Uruguayan soil.

Previous World Cup appearance(s): 1930,1950 (Champions),1954 (4th place),1962 (1st round), 1966 (Quarter finals),1970 (4th place),1974 (1st round),1986,1990 (Round of 16), 2002 (1st round), 2010 (4th place). Uruguay will appear at the World Cup for the 12th time in Brazil although they have missed five out of the last ten tournaments.

Extra time: Uruguay holds a special place in the annals of world football. They were the first hosts and champions of the World Cup which followed successive Olympic gold in the 1920’s. They are still the smallest nation by population to ever win the World Cup which they have achieved twice. Uruguay are the current champions of South America and are likely to go deep into the tournament, possibly tormenting their old rivals Brazil at some stage.

How far will Uruguay go in the 2014 World Cup?