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Five Things Great Britain Football Team Must Do to Beat Uruguay

Ed WymanCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2016

Five Things Great Britain Football Team Must Do to Beat Uruguay

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    Great Britain's men take on their Uruguayan counterparts this evening at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, needing at least a draw in order to guarantee qualification for the next round of matches.

    So far, they have secured a draw against Senegal and a win against the UAE, but this fixture has the potential to be their toughest of the tournament so far. 

    Stuart Pearce will know that his squad needs to be at its best in the Welsh capital, and here a five things Great Britain should aim to do as their quest for an historic Olympic medal continues.

Control Luis Suarez

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    Luis Suarez is undoubtedly the most recognizable face in the Uruguayan squad, a fact at least partially due to his ability.

    The 25-year-old is a striker of prodigious ability; he bagged 35 league goals in 33 outings for Ajax in the 2009-10 season and has been in decent form for Liverpool.

    Putting aside the controversy that seems to follow him far more reliably than many a defender, Great Britain need to keep Suarez under wraps if they are to get a result against their South American opponents.

    Suarez pace and movement make him a hard man to mark, and GB's defenders will be hard-pressed to keep him at bay if he is brought into the game on a regular basis.

    This is a situation that will be better dealt by suffocating the Uruguayan midfield than by leaving the job to the defence. If they are not given time on the ball, they will struggle to provide Suarez with the type of service he needs in order to get into shooting positions.

    If the British midfield succeeds in this matter, Suarez will be forced to drop back and look for the ball himself, a tactical victory for GB which would isolate Edinson Cavani and force a Uruguayan rethink.

    The problem is that with Joe Allen, Tom Cleverley, Aaron Ramsey and Ryan Giggs in midfield, GB do not have a whole heap of players who can comprehensively out-muscle Uruguay in the centre of the park.

    Happily for GB, Suarez, like many of his teammates, has not been on top form so far in the Olympics. However, if he does step it up, the British midfield and defence will have to contain him whilst also dealing with other threats; Uruguay are certainly not a one-man team. 

Positive Football

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    GB's success against the UAE was largely reliant on positive football. The periods where they dominated coincided with the phases when they got men forward and passed confidently and aggressively.

    Stuart Pearce will need to ensure that Britain do the same tonight, and that must start with his tactical choices. 

    Pearce got it spot on against the UAE, with regards to his formation, starters and substitutions. The inclusion of Ramsey gave GB a greater deal of technical finesse on the right wing, whilst the introduction of Daniel Sturridge and Scott Sinclair, and the technical reorganisation this initiated, were vital in tipping the game in GB's favour. 

    If Pearce can make the same bold choices against a Uruguayan side that certainly has the potential to be dangerous going forward, not only will the Millennium Stadium play host to an exciting game, but also it will be one in which GB have an excellent chance of getting a result. 

    The tactics do not have to be complicated, merely attacking. In Neil Taylor and Micah Richards, or Ryan Bertrand if Richards is required in central defence, GB have wing-backs who will look to get forward and play the game inside Uruguay's half.

    There is a reason for you having heard "the best form of defence is attack" before; it is often true. By getting on the front foot and forcing Uruguay to track back, they will be limiting the amount of chances the 1924 and 1928 Olympic champions can create whilst simultaneously increasing their chances of scoring.

    Uruguay will undoubtedly look to play attacking football, but the GB squad contains attacking players more than good enough to go blow for blow with the Uruguayans. Do that and not only will Uruguay be thrown off their game, but also they will be exposed defensively. 

Fitness

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    The British squad has, in both Olympic fixtures, looked  a little sluggish in the second half. That is understandable given that this is essentially a preseason tournament and they only managed one full warm-up match.

    However, other teams have seemed far more energetic in the latter stages of matches and Uruguay will certainly have noticed that GB has twice surrendered a 1-0 lead in the second half. 

    Having 38-year-old Ryan Giggs in the centre of midfield does not help matters in this regard. He is unlikely to last 90 minutes, especially having played the majority of the first two matches. That will necessitate a change of personnel at some point in the second half.

    Either Aaron Ramsey, who will already be tired, assuming he starts on the wing, will have to move into central midfield or one of Jack Cork and Danny Rose, arguably the two weakest midfielders, will have to come on. 

    This is not an ideal situation, especially with a 33-year-old in Craig Bellamy being one of the main attacking outlets.

    However, with two highly competitive fixtures under their belt, the squad should now have the sort of fitness that can only be garnered through real match practice. If GB are able to last better than Uruguay, they will have put themselves in a match-winning position.

Dominate Possession

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    Against the UAE, GB dominated possession for much of the match, allowing the likes of Joe Allen, Tom Cleverely and Ryan Giggs to control the game from the centre of midfield and get attacks started.

    All three are strong passers of the ball and will play a crucial role tonight.

    Perhaps the most encouraging thing for the upcoming game against Uruguay was the way in which the British midfield seemed comfortable passing the ball around inside the opposition half against the UAE, and that is something Stuart Pearce will have continued to focus on.

    Whilst it was not always perfectly executed, the eagerness with which the ball was played around the edge of the UAE's box was impressive. This is not a team that wants to play long ball, "hit it and hope" football. This is a team determined to play uncomplicated yet technical football, playing to its strengths.

    With Daniel Sturridge, hardly a target man, likely to start ahead of Marvin Sordell, this will be even more important than it has been previously.  The team needs to dominate possession in the centre of midfield and then deploy the strong attacking options they have on both wings and through the centre.

    It will be important for GB to stick to this plan, even if a goal doesn't come early or they concede; the best thing that can happen to Uruguay is GB hoofing the ball up the field.

Team Unity

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    Much has been made of how Great Britain's team is a bit of makeshift job, but both group games so far have seen a marked improvement over the performance against Brazil, which can only be a good thing.

    Unlike the Uruguayan squad, this is not a team that has come up through the national youth system, playing together from a young age. This is a team taken from two separate youth systems and thrown together for the first time just last month.

    Yet, almost by the minute, a greater awareness of each others' roles and preferences is developing. There were fewer misplaced passes against the UAE than previously, and there was a far greater sense of this being a team than before.

    The crowd must also play a role in this team unity. The match is to be played in Wales, a nation accustomed to competing against England, not with them. If the British, and English, national anthem is booed, as Craig Bellamy clearly thinks it might, then the whole squad, English and Welsh, is going to be in a bad place mentally right from the kickoff.

    Similarly, the players should, by now, know each other better as people, not just footballers. They must know when and how to motivate their colleagues; not everyone responds in the same manner to criticism. 

    Play as a team, and GB are well placed to secure qualification; play as individuals and getting at least a draw will be a tough ask.

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