Uruguay will aim to evoke the spirit of 1950's triumph on Brazilian soil when they head across South America for this year's World Cup.
Head coach Oscar Tabarez has taken the first step along this road by naming a 28-man squad for the tournament, including three stand-by options. While this will have to be whittled down to 23 before matches with Costa Rica, England and Italy, Tabarez's selection gives us a good idea of the team that will be deployed during the summer competition.
Uruguay failed to automatically qualify after finishing fifth in the CONMEBOL group section, but they easily progressed beyond Jordan with a 5-0 aggregate win during the intercontinental play-off. They suffered five losses across a total of 18 matches throughout the qualification process, with Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador condemning the Sky Blues to defeat.
Let's take a look at the squad that aims to overturn such difficulties, as well as offering a few starting line-up suggestions, provided by Sky Sports:
|Uruguay World Cup Squad|
|GK||Martin Silva||Vasco da Gama|
|DEF||Diego Lugano||West Brom|
|DEF||Diego Godin||Atletico Madrid|
|DEF||Jose Maria Gimenez||Atletico Madrid|
|MID||Alvaro Pereira||Sao Paulo|
|MID||Egidio Arevalo Rios||Morelia|
|MID||Cristian Rodriguez||Atletico Madrid|
|ATT||Edinson Cavani||Paris Saint-Germain|
|ATT||Diego Forlan||Cerezo Osaka|
|MID||Alvaro Fernandez||Gimnasia-La Plata|
|MID||Gonzalo Castro||Real Sociedad|
Starting XI Projection
GK: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray)
LB: Martin Caceres (Juventus)
CB: Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
CB: Diego Lugano (West Brom)
RB: Maxi Pereira (Benfica)
CDM: Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo)
CDM: Egidio Arevalo Rios (Morelia)
AM: Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid)
AM: Christian Stuani (Espanyol)
ST: Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)
There's little surprise from Tabarez, who will feel his World Cup squad pretty much picked itself. Uruguay's selection is made up of many players who have enjoyed success throughout the recent club season, none more so than star striker Luis Suarez.
The Liverpool man heads up a strong Premier League contingent of four. Sebastian Coates, his Reds team-mate, didn't make a club appearance all year, per WhoScored.com. His size and experience with the national team—with whom he played a key role during the 2011 Copa America win—sees Coates remain in the line-up.
Remarkably, Uruguay's main squad includes no player from the nation's domestic league. Clubs from Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Portugal and even Japan have provided players alongside those who live in England. Andres Scotti, who represents Montevideo-based Nacional, is the only player to hail from Uruguay, but he remains a stand-by option.
Uruguay will fancy themselves for success, especially as the nation previously captured both of their World Cup wins on South American soil. The players are used to sweltering heat and certainly possess an advantage over some of their group stablemates who hail from Europe, but Tabarez will need to get his tactics just right if the team is to excel.
The main worry here is Lugano at the back. Never blessed with lightning pace, the 33-year-old comes into the tournament after a difficult debut season in the Premier League. West Brom barely remained in the division, while Lugano's nine appearances often saw him stutter toward past-his-best veteran territory.
Although Caceres and Pereira are likely to be deployed in the full-back positions, offsetting a lack of pace in the centre, Lugano may crumble when targeted by speedy forwards. Even so, his leadership and organisational skills can prove to be invaluable during testing conditions.
The full-backs' willingness to bomb on will see Rodriguez and Stuanti deployed ahead of them, although Tabarez may call upon the versatile Alvaro Pereira to offer a greater defensive balance on the left side. Lodeiro and Arevalo remain the coach's preferred midfield duo, but Eguren's experience will see him slot in easily if needed.
Suarez and Edinson Cavani failed to find the right balance of hard work and effective attacking during the 2013 Confederations Cup, but they are destined to lead Uruguay's offensive tempo in a difficult group. It's vital the duo maintain some kind of proximity; Cavani often isolated himself throughout last year's warm-up event, his willingness to hunt down the ball leaving Suarez overwhelmed with defenders.
Abel Hernandez's speed provides a useful option for the bench and will be called up if Tabarez has to chase a result.
Uruguay's group is undoubtedly challenging, and their progression will rely on who can hit form at the right time. Both England and Italy are capable of topping the standings, while Costa Rica shouldn't be written off as pushovers just because they don't flaunt star power.
Tabarez's side will need to use the ball effectively, work their opposition with short passes and launch stinging attacks through two of the world's greatest forwards. This can help make up for any defensive shortcomings or ageing legs, as Uruguay's best chances of success come from taking the strain off their own workload.
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