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World Cup 2018: Uruguay Squad Preview, Fixtures, Where to Watch, Best Starting XI & Predictions

Arvind Sriram
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
7.46K   //    06 Jun 2018, 22:04 IST

Uruguay v Brazil - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers
Uruguay v Brazil - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers

Uruguay enter the 2018 World Cup as dark horses after pipping the likes of Argentina and Colombia to the second spot in their qualifying campaign. With players like Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin in their ranks, and managed by one of the smartest tacticians in world football, Oscar Tabarez, you can write them off at your peril.

They were solid in qualifying, scoring 32 goals and conceding 20, beating Colombia and Chile comfortably whilst also taking points off Brazil. Drawn in a relatively comfortable group consisting of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia, Uruguay will be looking to make their mark in what could be many of their top players' final World Cup campaign.

With a total of 954 international caps among members of their squad, they have a wealth of good ol' heads heading into the competition - they rank 4th in the total number of World Cup caps with 66 - Uruguay are one of the most experienced squads in Russia which will aid their charge for their third World Cup title.

Uruguay's Group Fixtures and Venues

Match 1: Egypt vs. Uruguay, Yekaterinburg, June 15, Friday

Match 2: Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia, Rostov-on-Don, June 20, Wednesday

Match 3: Uruguay vs. Russia, Samara, June 25, Monday

Also read: Top 5 Group Games to Watch at the World Cup

TV and Live Stream

TV: Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 2 HD, Sony Ten 3, Sony Ten 3 HD

Live Stream: Sony LIV

Uruguay Squad For The World Cup

Goalkeepers: Martin Campana (Independiente), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama)

Defenders: Martin Caceres (Lazio), Sebastian Coates (Sporting CP), Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Maximiliano Pereira (Porto), Gaston Silva (Independiente), Guillermo Varela (Penarol)

Midfielders: Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro), Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Diego Laxalt (Genoa), Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors), Cristian Rodriguez (Penarol), Carlos Sanchez (Monterrey), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria), Matias Vecino (Inter), Jonathan Urretaviscaya (Monterrey)

Forwards: Edinson Cavani (Paris St-Germain), Maximiliano Gomez (Celta Vigo), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Cristhian Stuani (Girona)

Key Players: Rodrigo Bentancur, Edinson Cavani

Uruguay Coach: Oscar Tabarez

Tabarez took over the reins following Uruguay's disastrous 2006 World Cup qualification campaign and oversaw a major turnaround in fortunes. Credited with reviving the Uruguayan national team, El Maestro coached the side to the semi-finals in South Africa 2010 - their first in 40 years.

Now, he's got them playing the best football of their lives, and, during the qualification campaign in which Uruguay pipped the likes of Argentina and Colombia to second spot, Tabarez became the manager with the most games for a single country, breaking the record then held by Sepp Herberger.

The 71-year-old has publicly stated his desire to quit coaching at the end of the World Cup and hence this could be his last shot at lifting the coveted trophy.

Uruguay's Preferred Formation

Tabarez prefers employing his men in the old-school 4-4-2 with Cavani and Suarez up top and two natural wide players in Cristian Rodriguez and Nandez. However, they were able to switch seamlessly to the 4-3-1-2 - when De Arrascaeta started ahead of Cristian Rodriguez, slotting into the hole behind the two strikers.

Uruguay's Best Starting XI

Uruguay's backline seems more or less settled. In Gimenez and Godin, they have arguably the best center-back pairing in the World Cup. Varela and Caceres will occupy the full-back slots. The midfield is where things begin to get interesting. Uruguay have a number of players for each position, the most exciting of which are Juventus' Bentancur and Inter's Vecino.

Both had promising seasons for their respective sides and will pull the strings from the centre of the park. Rodriguez and Nandez meanwhile will offer the width, delivering dangerous balls into the box for Cavani and Suarez to pounce on. Suarez can also be expected to drift onto the left-side, the position he so often occupies for Barcelona, and be a more creative force.


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Uruguay's History At The World Cup

Uruguay are two-time World Cup champions, having emerged triumphant in the very first edition held in 1930 at home, and 20 years later in Brazil. They failed to qualify for six editions - 1958, 1978, 1982, 1994, 1998, 2006 - but all before the Tabarez era. He coached them to a semi-final finish in 2010 and then a R16 exit last time around.


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Prediction: How Far Can Uruguay Go?

Uruguay have been placed in a relatively comfortable group and should get through unscathed. They should, in all likelihood, top Group A which means they will be up against the runners-up of Group B. This is where it gets tricky. If things go according to plan, Tabarez's men will square off against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the R16. However, if Portugal manage to pip Spain to the top spot in Group B, then Uruguay will have a mountain to climb. Either way, regardless of who they do end up facing, I feel they do not have the quality to get past the first knockout round.

Prediction: R16 exit

What do you make of Uruguay's chances at the World Cup? How far do you think they will go? Have your say in the comments.

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Arvind Sriram
SENIOR ANALYST
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