Copa America 2015 Team Guide: Uruguay
The countdown to the 2015 Copa America is well underway, as 12 nations prepare to do battle to wrest the title from Uruguay.
Having won in 2011 to claim a record 15th Copa, La Celeste will doubtless find things much tougher going this time around with some key names absent. Looking at those, and those who remain, we'll assess the state of play for Oscar Tabarez’s squad heading into the tournament in Chile.
You can check out the other squads’ details and key faces:
As ever, Uruguay’s squad does not show a huge amount of change, with the nation having a relatively small pool of players to choose from—and not being helped by the absences of key players.
Twelve of this current squad were among the 23 named in 2011 when Uruguay won the Copa America—and had Luis Suarez (suspension), Martin Caceres (injury) and Diego Forlan (retired) been available, it would have been even more.
Yahoo Sports confirmed the full squad:
Midfielders: Alvaro Pereira (Estudiantes), Mathias Corujo, Guzman Pereira (both Universidad de Chile), Alvaro Gonzalez (Torino), Carlos Sanchez (River Plate), Egidio Arevalo Rios (UANL Tigres), Nicolas Lodeiro (Boca Juniors), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid)
Forwards: Giorgian de Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro), Cristhian Stuani (Espanyol), Abel Hernandez (Hull City), Edinson Cavani (Paris St-Germain), Diego Rolan (Girondins Bordeaux), Jonathan Rodriguez (Benfica).
Oscar Tabarez is about as well-acquainted with his team as any national manager can be, having been in place since 2006 and overseeing no less than six major tournaments, including this upcoming Copa America.
Having won the title last time out in 2011, Tabarez is arguably one of Uruguay’s greatest names. He guided them to back-to-back World Cup berths, helped break almost a 50-year winless streak against European opposition (winning 2-1 against England and 1-0 against Italy in Brazil 2014) and even lead the under-23s at the 2012 Olympics.
Tactically, Tabarez can switch his players at will, as he has been in place so long that they all know what is demanded of them. He typically plays either a 3-4-3, a 4-4-2 or a midfield diamond.
Still, Tabarez will have to work out how his rugged, hardworking core will fashion chances without Suarez and Forlan in order to ensure further success.
Diego Godin and Fernando Muslera will be key for Uruguay’s battling tendencies and defensive rigidity, but to qualify for the latter stages they are going to have to hit the back of the net, too—and that’s almost all on Edinson Cavani right now.
For all his goals at club level and his all-round importance to the national side, he hasn’t really done it at a major tournament yet, being eclipsed in 2010 by Forlan and in 2011 and 2014 by Suarez. Cavani will offer an outlet, will link play with the attacking midfielders and will certainly see chances fall his way...but he’ll also need to be clinical with them this time.
With 25 goals to his name for Uruguay he’s not exactly shot-shy, but he'll need to boost his 1-to-3 strike rate for them if he’s to lead them anywhere close to the sort of glory they enjoyed four years ago, as no other selected forward has proved clinical at this level.
One to Watch
He might not be the obvious choice given his fall from supposed emergence on the world stage, but Nicolas Lodeiro is going to be absolutely pivotal for Uruguay.
With no Suarez or Forlan and even Gaston Ramirez ousted from the squad, creativity and ingenuity is severely lacking in this Uruguay selection. Lodeiro enjoyed a resurgence at Botafogo in Brazil after not really shining at Ajax, but he has swiftly switched in the past year to Corinthians and now Boca Juniors.
Once more a key component at club level, Tabarez may well be pinning his creative hopes for the side on Lodeiro's shining and proving that he can be the top talent expected in his younger days.
Uruguay won in 2011 to claim a record 15th title, which was their first victory without hosting since 1987. Few nations can match the history of Uruguay in any major competition, but their prestige in the Copa America outshines all:
Last four: 14
Their most recent finishes:
2007: Fourth place
2004: Third place
2001: Fourth place
Uruguay vs. Jamaica: 13 June, 16:00 (CLT), Estadio Regional de Antofagasta, Antofagasta
Argentina vs. Uruguay: 16 June, 20:30 (CLT), Estadio La Portada, La Serena
Uruguay vs. Paraguay: 20 June, 16:00 (CLT), Estadio La Portada, La Serena