World Cup 2018: Uruguay Team vs Egypt, Predicted XI
The WC 2018 got underway with Russia thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opener on Thursday. But the big games are lined up for Friday with Uruguay and Egypt kicking off the first of three matches.
The South American nation are two-time champions; winning the inaugural edition in 1930 and upsetting Brazil in the Maracana in 1950. However, they have always been dark horses in recent editions, their best finish being fourth in 2010.
This time, though, they come into the World Cup with lofty ambitions following the heartbreak in 2014 when Luis Suarez was banned after the final group game against Italy for biting Giorgio Chiellini.
"For an ‘assault’ you get maybe four games. They took him out the World Cup, kicked him out like a dog. He wasn’t allowed at the Copa America." - Diego Godin in an interview with The Guardian
Suarez received a nine-match ban - the longest ban ever in World Cup history - effectively ending Uruguay's hopes as they were dumped out of the World Cup in the Round of 16.
How will Uruguay line up?
Oscar Tabarez has been the coach of Uruguay since 2006 and his teams have always been built on a solid foundation at the back. Even his full-backs are tasked with going forward only when the need arises rather than sprint forward with reckless abandon.
With Fernando Muslera in goal, Uruguay's back-line for this World Cup will see a centre-back partnership of captain Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez - two defenders that have been the bedrock of Atletico Madrid's defence. The Rojiblancos had not only the best defence in La Liga but the best in Europe this season.
The full-backs will see a healthy rivalry between Guillermo Varela and Maximiliano Pereira for the right-back spot but Varela will mostly get the nod while Martin Caceres starts at left-back.
Matias Vecino will start in central midfield alongside Rodrigo Bentancur. Vecino had a good season with Inter Milan, helping them qualify for the Champions League and he will be tasked with defensive midfield duties. On the other hand, Bentancur will provide the thrust going forward in attack.
The flanks will see Nahitan Nandez on the right wing while Cristian Rodriguez plays on the left. All these players will be looking to service Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front. While Cavani will play on the shoulder of defenders, Suarez will be allowed to roam a bit into space.
If Tabarez opts to go for a 4-3-1-2 instead, we could see Giorgian De Arrascaeta play behind the duo of Cavani and Suarez. But knowing Tabarez, he might opt for the 4-4-2 which gives him defensive solidity.
Uruguay XI and Formation
Uruguay have faced Egypt once before in 2006 where they ran out 2-0 winners. However, this time they will have to contend with Ballon d'Or contender Mohamed Salah - provided he is fit and raring to go following the shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final.
Winning this game and topping the group will be important to avoid probable Group B toppers Spain in the next round.
UPDATE: SQUAD ANNOUNCED
Uruguay XI vs Egypt: Muslera; Varela, Godin, Gimenez, Caceres; Nandez, Vecino, Bentancur, De Arrascaeta; Suarez, Cavani.
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