Fri, 18 Nov 2022 03:23 PM IST
Uruguay won the inaugural World Cup in their capital Montevideo in 1930 and lifted it again in 1950 by upsetting hosts Brazil. After failing to qualify for three out of four World Cups between 1994 and 2006 and exiting at the group stage in the other, Uruguay reached the semi-finals in 2010 - the furthest they had gone since 1970. More recently, they lost to Colombia in the last 16 in 2014 and fell to eventual champions France in the quarter-finals in Russia four years ago.
FIFA ranking: 14
How they qualified:
Uruguay's gruelling 18-round qualification campaign began with long-serving coach Oscar Tabarez in charge and ended under Diego Alonso, who sealed their World Cup place after presiding over four straight wins since taking over in December.
Tabarez was undone by a combination of injuries and a punishing run of fixtures - Uruguay suffered heavy defeats away to Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia in a four-game losing streak before getting back on track under Alonso.
Veteran forward Luis Suarez top-scored with eight goals as Uruguay won eight games and netted 22 times but conceded just as many, finishing third behind Brazil and Argentina.
Uruguay saw off Mexico 3-0, played out a 0-0 draw with the United States and thrashed Panama 5-0 in June to continue their unbeaten run under Alonso. They lost 1-0 against Iran - their first defeat under the new coach - before beating Canada 2-0 in their September friendlies.
Players To Watch out for:
Fernando Muslera is a living legend and has had a big hand in Uruguay’s success of the last decade. The man between the posts in South Africa in 2010, Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018, Muslera was also part of the side that won the 2011 Copa America in Argentina. An untimely injury picked up during coach Alonso’s first international double-header caused him to lose his place, however, and when the veteran keeper regained fitness, the Uruguay boss decided to stick with the man he had brought in to replace him: Sergio Rochet.
Uruguay is capable of performing a number of different functions in different positions, even during the course of a match, Valverde is a tireless performer with a huge work rate and has added an attacking dimension to his game. He showed his box-to-box capabilities in the latest Madrid derby, scoring his side’s second in a 2-1 win, his fourth goal of the season to date. Valverde is Real Madrid’s third striker, fourth midfielder and fifth defender rolled into one. In addition to his ability to cover every blade of grass and his characteristic Uruguayan grit, he offers vision, an eye for goal and a gift for reading the game.
After a seemingly endless transfer window, the legendary Charrúa front man finally signed on the dotted line for Valencia, having flirted with a move to Boca Juniors. Regular appearances in La Liga will do his Qatar 2022 prospects no harm and will give him the opportunity to show he still has what it wakes after a final season at Manchester United in which he enjoyed little first-team football. Though perhaps not the force he once was, Cavani remains a top-level forward who never lets his country down.
With Cavani and Suarez in the twilight of their careers, the emergence of Nunez has gone some way to answering doubts about the future of Uruguay’s front line. A Penarol youth product, Nunez spent time at Almeria in Spain before finding his place with Benfica in Portugal. His performances there led to Liverpool splashing out an initial €75m on the latest Celeste phenomenon, with the fee rising a potential €25m with add-ons. A formidable opponent in open play, the Uruguayan tends to sit out on the left but can also take up position down the middle and play as a target man, which is where Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has been deploying him.