Uruguay Olympic Soccer Team: 2012 Roster Predictions and Analysis

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMay 2, 2012

Uruguay Olympic Soccer Team: 2012 Roster Predictions and Analysis

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    Uruguay qualified for the London 2012 Olympic soccer tournament by achieving the runner-up spot in the 2011 Sudamericana Sub-20 tournament.

    Hosted in Peru and held over January and February 2011, the competition displayed a number of young, skillful teams vying for qualificationbut only two could prevail.

    Uruguay squeezed through after defeating Argentina 1-0a victory you can see the highlights of here.

    Read on to get a sneak peek at how Uruguay might look like come the summer tournament and where their strengths lie.

    It's tough to predict the squad as there has been no official announcements as of yet, but we can make educated predictions based on their achievements over the past 18 months in youth competitions.

    Enjoy the slideshow!

Potential Overage Selections

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    Luis Suarez

    The Liverpool sensation looks like a certainty to make the squad and will take a central, spotlit role in taking Uruguay as far as possible.

    Edinson Cavani

    Another borderline certainty, everyone's favourite goal-poacher Cavani will likely light Great Britain up this summer.

    Martin Caceres

    He hasn't settled domestically, but he's made an impression on the national team. A good, versatile talent who could be a useful addition.

    Diego Godin

    Experience at central defence is viewed as crucial by most managers and Godin would provide valuable service at the back.

    Fernando Muslera 

    The mainstay of a quality side is a great goalkeeper and Muslera is Uruguay's undisputed No. 1 choice between the sticks.

    Diego Forlan

    Could they go for the incredible attacking trio that saw them land fourth place in the 2010 World Cup?

    Alvaro Pereira

    A long-term target for many top European clubs, Periera's attacking exploits down the left side have attracted many admirers. He could light up the tournament if selected.

    Jorge Fucile

    A more reserved full-back option but attacking nonetheless, Fucile is a long shot but not a bad option

    Walter Gargano

    The midfield battle is incredibly important and Gargano makes a huge impact for both the senior international team and his club side Napoli.

Forwards

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    Key Players

    Adrian Luna

    He's been a mainstay in the Uruguay youth squads this past year, excelling in both the Sudamericana Sub-20 and U-20 World Cup.

    Abel Hernandez

    Palermo's young attacking talent has found it difficult to make an impact on the senior team, finding his path blocked by the incredible trio of Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani. Hernandez has a lot to offer and will showcase his talents come July.

    In the Coaches Thoughts

    David Texeira

    This young starlet is a first-team player for FC Groningen in the Eredivisie, racking up eight goals from 25 starts. He has a lot to offer and has already impressed in previous youth tournaments.

    Long Shots

    Federico Rodriguez

    A reserve option, Rodriguez played partner in crime to Texeira during the Sudamericana Sub-20. He was less prolific, but served as a good striking partner.

Midfielders

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    Key Players

    Gaston Ramirez

    A likely star for Uruguay, even in comparison to the established Luis Suarez, Ramirez has lit up Serie A with Bologna this season and big things will be expected of him this summer.

    Nicolas Lodeiro

    Injuries has troubled him, but if he's firing on all cylinders, he represents yet another attacking threat. His time at Ajax has taught him how to play good football and he is definitely one to watch.

    Pablo Cepellini

    A mainstay in the Uruguay youth setup, Cepellini has also begun to force his way into the Cagliari side this season too. He made his first league start and continues to rack up the minutes on the pitch.

    In the Coaches Thoughts

    Jonathan Urretaviscaya

    Tough to tackle, tough to pronounce. I'll be calling him "John" for the entire tournament.

    Matias Vecino

    Has seen action on many levels despite his short career, but gets substituted a lot. Not a key player.

    Camilo Mayada

    Was an undroppable player during the recent tournaments, but might see his opportunities limited by the influx of older, more established players.

    Nicolas Prieto

    He's been a major player in the youth team over the last two years having hit the turf in 13 games.

    Angel Cayetano

    Another huge influence on the youth team. He's played slightly fewer games than Prieto, but started more often.

    Long Shots

    Guzman Pereira

    Had a strong impact during the Sudamericana Sub-20 run but saw no action while the U-20 World Cup was on last summer.

    Ignacio Lores

    Currently forcing his way into the Palermo team, Lores will likely have good chemistry with star man Abel Hernandez. I don't expect him to feature too heavily though.

Defenders

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    Key Players

    Sebastien Coates

    Coates will lead the defensive line and look to prove he's got what it takes to replace Diego Lugano in the long term.

    Diego Polenta

    A young star who has benefited greatly from on-loan experience at Serie B side Bari, Polenta has captained the Uruguay youth sides at both the Sudamericana Sub-20s and the FIFA U-20 World Cup competitions.

    Maximiliano Olivera

    Another young, promising Uruguayan central defender who is uncompromising both in the air and in the tackle. Will only a play a significant role if Uruguay take forwards to fill the over-23 slots.

    In the Coaches Thoughts

    Ramon Arias

    Not guaranteed to play a huge part, but does have domestic trophies under his belt. He's a consistent starter for Uruguayan side Defensor Sporting.

    Federico Platero

    A teammate of Arias at Defensor Sporting but significantly less favoured by his club side. He did start every game at the Sudamericana Sub-20 though, so he is firmly entrenched in the coaches thoughts.


    Long Shots

    Leandro Cabrera

    Will provide depth and competition at the centre-back position.

    Guillermo De Los Santos

    Didn't feature during the qualification for this tournament but made three appearances in the U-20 World Cup. Has a 50/50 chance of being involved.

Goalkeepers

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    Salvador Ichazo

    The goalkeeper for Uruguay's Sudamericana Sub-20 and U-20 World Cup exploits. If Muslera doesn't travel, Ichazo should be relied upon. He hasn't kicked off his career domestically, but looks like the preferred player in the national youth setup.

    Jhonny Da Silva

    Unlike Ichazo, this guy has actually established himself at his current club. He's made over 35 starting appearances for Tacuaremboan impressive feat considering he's just 20 years old. Even still, he plays clear second fiddle on the national stage.

    Leandro Gelpi

    Played the part of benchwarmer during his nation's recent international youth campaigns and never got a sniff with regard to starting action.

Manager

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    Oscar Tabarez, or "El Maestro" if you like, has admitted he couldn't be more excited for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

    He loves the idea of playing in some of the most iconic football stadiums in the worldOld Trafford and Wembley in particular.

    His Uruguay team will be raw and ready, eager to take on their opponents under his stewardship. He's led the Uruguay senior team to considerable success over the last two years and his country will be optimistic he can replicate that success on a youth level.

Best-Case Scenario

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    Quite simpleUruguay make a splash.

    Not too much is expected of this young team and with no hope of winning, they will just be looking to turn some heads.

    The gulf in quality was made clear in the crushing 6-0 defeat this team experienced at the hands of Brazil during qualifyinga tournament where Neymar ran riot with nine goals.

    They have a lot of attacking quality but it'll be the defence which is put to the sword.

    There's a lot to gain for these young stars and not an awful lot to lose.

Worst-Case Scenario

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    The worst-case scenario is that Uruguay don't put up a fight.

    The world will look on as they take on host nation Great Britain and if Uruguay harbour any hopes of qualifying from the group, they need at least a point from this match.

    The spotlight will be on and, even if they lose, manager Oscar Tabarez will hope they lose in a style that opens a few eyesby displaying some quality, attacking football like the senior team did during the 2010 World Cup.

    One thing we don't want is an unexpected, unsightly capitulation such as the one we witnessed during the 2011 U-20 World Cup in Colombia.

Prediction

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    "Safe" predictions are no fun.

    United Arab Emirates provide almost no threat in this group, while Senegal will only offer some resistance if they can bring in Newcastle duo Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

    I for one don't expect Great Britain to do that well and Uruguay should be looking to qualify out of this group, standing a good chance of beating the hosts along the way to secure first place in Group A.

    From there, the knockout stages are a lottery. Spain and Brazil will prove too tough to beat but Uruguay could give anyone else a genuinely good game of football.

    Prediction: Reach the quarterfinals, but they won't be eliminated with a whimper.

The Facts

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    Nicknames

    Charruas (Relating to the people of Uruguay), La Celeste (The Sky Blue), La Celeste Olimpica (The Olympic Sky Blue)

    Manager: Oscar Tabarez

    Best Olympic Finish: Gold (1924, 1928)

    How They Qualified for the Olympics: Runner-up 2011 Sudamericana Sub-20 Tournament.

    Got Highlights?

    Gaston Ramirez is widely expected to make a name for himself this summer. Here he is punishing some Italian defences during the current domestic campaign.

    Fun-ish Soccer-Related Fact

    According to Goal.com, Uruguay are responsible for the phrase "Vuelta Olimpica," a reference to their lap of honour following their 1924 gold medal triumph.