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World Cup 2018: Uruguay

 

Uruguay go to the World Cup 2018 as the No. 14 ranked team in the world. It is a surprise ranking due to the amount of quality manager Oscar Tabarez has in his squad.

Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin are just three of the names Tabarez has called upon to bring the South Americans success.

The South American nation is a two-time World Cup winner. The inaugural 1930 World Cup winner and the 1950 winner, Uruguay have qualified for the two most recent tournaments in South African and Brazil.

It was at the South African World Cup that Uruguay achieved their most success post-1970. Uruguay finished fourth and the team will be remembered for Luis Suarez’s dastardly handball that prevented a sure goal for Ghana. The goal would have eliminated Uruguay in extra-time. However, a missed penalty led to a penalty shootout won by the South Americans.

Since then, Suarez has gone from a rising football star into one of the best players in the world. Suarez has scored 51 goals in 98 games for the national side. He is coming off of another superb season at Barcelona in which he tallied 31 goals. But controversy is never far behind the striker. In Brazil four years ago, Suarez bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini. He was banned for four months following the incident. Uruguay need Suarez to be in the right frame of mind at this year’s tournament, if the team wants to go deep into the knockout phase.

Cavani is the perfect accompaniment to Suarez. The Paris Saint-Germain striker is cool and calm in front of goal and won’t take a bite out of an opposing defender. Cavani’s international strike rate has seen him draw criticism at times. He has tallied 42 goals in 101 matches; and some believe he should be scoring more goals in the Uruguay shirt.

Manager Tabarez is in his second term as Uruguay manager. His reign has lasted 12 years and seen the manager oversee two World Cup tournaments already. Now 71, Tabarez will take charge of a third World Cup with players he is incredibly familiar with.

Uruguay will benefit from their draw in Group A. The group is the weakest on paper. Egypt is Uruguay’s match day 1 opponent ad the African nation is ranked 45th in the FIFA rankings. Saudi Arabia are ranked 67th while Russia comes in at 70th. Uruguay should have no difficult topping Group A.

Once through the group, Tabarez and company will have a Group B team waiting for them. Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Iran make up Group B. Uruguay will fancy their chances against each of those Group B teams in the round of 16.