In their last tune-up before heading to Brazil for the World Cup, Uruguay handled Slovenia with relative ease, 2-0, at the Estadio Centenario on Wednesday night.
PSG's prolific striker Edinson Cavani scored the opener, Christian Stuani doubled the lead in the second half, veteran Diego Forlan provided a world-class assist and Los Charruas nearly found the back of the net on several other occasions during the mostly dominant effort.
FRIENDLY FT Uruguay 2 Slovenia 0 Competent, if not exactly dominant, Uruguay performance— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) June 5, 2014
That said, it was a lackluster start from Uruguay. Unable to play the counter-attacking style that they like due to Slovenia's refusal to push men forward, Los Charruas were forced to string together passes and possess the ball instead.
That worked about as well as a boat in a desert, as they looked sloppy in the midfield and were unable to get the ball to Cavani or Forlan in space. In the first 15 minutes, Slovenia had the two best chances at goal, both of which were thwarted by Fernando Muslera.
After the cagey start, though, Uruguay began to settle in, creating their first legitimate chance in the 25th minute.
A long ball over the top nestled into the feet of Maxi Pereira, who took a fine first touch toward goal and fired from a difficult angle on the right side of the box. It had Inter's Samir Handanovic beaten, but it ricocheted harmlessly out of play off the far post.
25' That was close! A long ball was controlled by Maxi Pereira and he hit the far post from a tight angle. Uruguay's best chance so far.— Football Uruguay (@footballuruguay) June 5, 2014
That seemed to inject some confidence into Los Charruas, though, and they began to pick up the attacking energy, which ultimately led to the lovely opening goal.
After Slovenia was unable to properly clear their line against Uruguay's increased pressure in the midfield, the ball ended up at the feet of Forlan just outside of the box. From there, the veteran curled in a simple-yet-gorgeous ball to Cavani, who snuck in between defenders and headed it home.
Footy Vines provided a look at the goal:
It was a reminder that the 35-year-old Forlan still has some magic in him, but it left FOX Soccer Trax wondering "what if?" in terms of a potential Luis Suarez return from injury:
Really neat ball lifted in by Forlan - you wonder how tough Uruguay can be if Cavani, Suarez are both running into space— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) June 5, 2014
Forlan wasn't done.
In the opening 20 minutes of the second half, he created three more chances. The first, another accurate, curling cross in front of the box for Cavani, wasn't quite able to finish. The next two were off set pieces: one a free kick and another a corner, both of which were whipped in perfectly to dangerous spots inside the box.
Uruguay's second goal came off another one of his corners, although not directly. Forlan sent the ball to the far post, and after Cavani kept the ball away from Handanovic following a scramble in front of goal, Stuani completed the easy finish.
Slovenia nearly scored just minutes later against a relaxed Uruguayan defense, but Roman Bezjak missed a golden opportunity from in front of goal, sealing the match at 2-0.
With a little more than a week until the start of the premiere international showcase, there are few sides more compelling than Uruguay. If completely healthy, Oscar Tabarez's side has the attacking talent to make a deep run on South American soil.
How far will Uruguay advance at the World Cup?
However, there's a considerably low floor for this side as well, depending on the health of Suarez, the Premier League Player of the Year.
"I want the whole team to be healthy and ready for the World Cup so I want Luis to be back and ready for that," long-time La Celeste linchpin Forlan recently told Press Association Sport, via ITV.com. "That would be much better for all of us. Everybody wants him to be ready."
Interestingly enough, it's Forlan who will need to fill the void up front if Suarez can't go. Many wonder if the Cerezo Osaka forward is capable of doing that, but Wednesday's dynamic performance was telling.
While Urguay's second-leading scorer may not torch the back of the net routinely anymore, he can still create for others, whip in tantalizing services and provide a dangerous threat on set pieces.
It's clear Tabarez's group still haven't quite hit their top gear, but Wednesday was an encouraging effort in front of what will be a difficult World Cup group featuring Italy and England.