Diego Forlan: Can the Uruguayan Forward Inspire Internacional in 2013?

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Diego Forlan: Can the Uruguayan Forward Inspire Internacional in 2013?
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He arrived to much fanfare in the summer of 2012, but Diego Forlan's opening end-of-term report at Internacional would not have made pleasant reading for supporters of the Uruguay striker.

Five goals in his first 19 matches was hardly a stunning record, but it was his overall performance levels that prompted major criticism from some of the club's supporters.

Was the Uruguayan "past it"? His previous spell at Inter Milan had led to just two goals in 17 appearances, leading some to suggest that this prolonged dip in form was more than just a temporary blip.

In truth, we still don't know. However, six goals in seven Gaucho championship games have put a positive light on his start under new manager Dunga.

State championship goals will, rightly or wrongly, ultimately be judged differently to league or even continental goals. Forlan can, though, point to a goal in each fixture with local rivals Grêmio as indication that he can still perform against better sides.

There have also been goals that have been out of the ordinary, that no keeper at any club in any league worldwide would have been able to prevent. The video below, for example, shows Forlan's wondrous brace against minnows Esportivo last week.

With Internacional having failed to qualify for the Copa Libertadores this season, it is the state championship that will be Forlan's proving ground until May. Title success will be demanded.

Internacional, though, will aim higher than that. The Rio Grande do Sul giants are a proud club with many players on salaries that demand on-field success. A good league performance, as well as title challenges in the Brazilian Cup and Copa Sudamericana will be the expectation of Dunga and his side.

To stand any chance of doing so, they will need Forlan to be on top form.

Dunga has attempted to introduce pace and athleticism to the Inter side, as can be seen by his January signings. The '94 World Cup winner is famed for his counter attacking preference and is likely to head in that direction once more at the Beira-Rio.

The onus, then, will be on foreign players Andres D'Alessandro and Forlan to provide the additional quality required to find a way through stubborn defences. Both are undoubtedly excellent players but both endured poor years in 2012 for players of their ability.

With the state championship a long but hardly taxing introduction to the league campaign, both should be refreshed, confident and ready for the challenges that lie ahead. The signs thus far have been positive.

Indeed, it is not just Forlan who appears to have finally bedded into the Brazilian game. Former Roma centre-back Juan was excellent in the state championship first-stage final last weekend, having also suffered upon his initial return to his homeland.

As the likes of Deco and Jadson have shown previously, re-adaptation to the Brazilian game is not an easy process. Both, though, came through initial struggles to place themselves among the league's elite.

For Forlan, as for Juan, this must be the hope. In this early stage of the 2013 campaign, he looks as fit, motivated and confident as he has at any time in the past couple of years.

With Leandro Damião possibly set for a summer departure, Forlan will be crucial to Dunga and Internacional's ambitions in 2013. The Uruguayan, with his 2014 World Cup place at stake, will be determined to prove that there is life in the old dog yet.

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