Uruguay vs. Argentina: 6 Things We Learned
River Plate rivals Uruguay and Argentina played out an entertaining encounter to finish up their respective CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying campaigns, with the Uruguayans coming out 3-2 victors in Montevideo on Tuesday.
Maxi Rodriguez scored a double for the Albiceleste, who fielded a largely second-string side, while Cristian Rodriguez, Luis Suarez (penalty) and Edinson Cavani got the goals for Oscar Tabarez's team.
Here are six things we learned from the match.
1. Uruguay Face a Playoff Against Jordan to Make the World Cup
We always knew this was the most likely outcome heading into the final round of CONMEBOL qualifying, but results around the continent confirmed that Uruguay must beat Jordan over two legs in order to reach the 2014 World Cup.
With Ecuador going down 2-1 to Chile, the Celeste were presented with a remote chance of sneaking into fourth place and thus avoiding the playoff game. They didn't do enough, however, as they needed to score four more goals against Argentina to edge Ecuador on goal difference.
Though they will by no means take the game lightly, Oscar Tabarez's men will be quietly confident of getting past the Jordanians and booking a spot in Brazil.
2. Maxi Rodriguez Has an Important Role to Play for Argentina in Brazil
One of only a small handful of players likely to make Argentina's squad for Brazil who are plying their trade in the Primera Division, Maxi proved once again that he deserves to be there.
In the 2006 World Cup he scored a truly memorable goal in extra time to see the Albiceleste past Mexico in the first knockout phase, and his two finishes against Uruguay are evidence that he still has that golden touch.
The Newell's Old Boys attacking midfielder will probably not start in most of Argentina's games, but he could be a very valuable impact player coming off the bench.
3. Sabella Has a Potty Mouth
A pitch-side microphone situated somewhere close to Alejandro Sabella picked up a lot of what he had to say during the game, and the Argentina manager certainly did not mince his words when addressing his players.
Argentines are fond of colorful language at the best of times, so it is not surprising that the tensions surrounding a derby match against a traditional rival brought about some creative cussing from "The Sloth."
In all seriousness, it was fascinating to eavesdrop on the directions the coach sent out to his charges.
In particular, he was insistent that the defenders, whenever they received the ball, feed it to deep-lying midfielder Lucas Biglia as quickly as possible—no doubt to ensure it was well-distributed further up the pitch.
The former Estudiantes coach was also frequently displeased with Augusto Fernandez's positioning on the right side of midfield. Fernandez is a fringe player who may not have done his chances of making the final squad much good by failing to follow instructions.
4. Suarez Will Always Be Suarez
Liverpool forward Luis Suarez basically had a typical night by his standards.
He was a nuisance all game to opposing defenders, producing several moments of brilliance and scoring a goal from the penalty spot.
It was the way Suarez won the penalty, though, that will give fuel to his many critics. Receiving the ball to his feet in the penalty area, the Uruguay front man dropped to the ground under what appeared to be very little pressure from his defender.
The referee saw a foul, however, and pointed to the spot.
Love him or hate him, Suarez knows how to win games of football.
5. It Might Be Time to Give Up on Federico Fernandez
Sabella has persisted with the tall central defender as one of his preferred starters alongside Ezequiel Garay, but Fernandez may be about to run out of chances.
The fact that he was chosen for this game could be read as a bad sign for the 24-year-old. With Argentina already through to the World Cup, mostly fringe players where selected for the clash with Uruguay, presumably so the manager could decide if certain individuals merited a spot in his final squad.
Fernandez's call-up could indicate that Sabella is having doubts about him, and his performance would have done little to dispel such concerns.
The center-back made quite a few nervous errors, including giving the ball away that resulted in Uruguay's third goal.
6. Uruguay Will Be Dangerous If They Make the Finals
Should Jordan fail to produce a major upset against the Celeste, Tabarez's troops will be an extremely tough proposition for any opponent in Brazil.
In Cavani and Suarez they boast what will be one of the most fearsome strike forces at the tournament, and they feature a host of midfielders and defenders who know how to battle their way to victory.
Other World Cup sides will be hoping to avoid Uruguay at all costs.