World Cup - Country profile: Uruguay

We profile 2014 World Cup finalists Uruguay, who are looking to their formidable front line to inspire them in Brazil.

World Cup - Country profile: Uruguay

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Diego Godin (L) and Luis Suarez of Uruguay celebrate at the end of their 2014 World Cup qualifying playoff second leg soccer match against Jordan in Montevideo November 20, 2013 (Reuters)

Form and Prospects

Uruguay at a World Cup in Brazil is enough to send shudders down the spine of Brazilian fans given the stigma still attached to Brazil's most famous defeat when they lost 2-1 to the Uruguayans in the 1950 tournament's 'Maracanazo'.

That feat, winning the decider at the Maracana when a draw in the no-final format would have been enough for Brazil to lift the trophy, should spur coach Oscar Tabarez's reigning South American champions to surpass themselves in trademark fashion on familiar South American soil.

And they have, of course, won the World Cup twice on the continent, winning the inaugural competition in Uruguay in 1930, followed up by victory in Brazil 20 years later.

In style the team is essentially the same as that which swept them to the semi-finals four years ago, playing 4-4-2 but breaking into 4-3-1-2 when in attack with Cristian 'Cebolla' (onion) Rodriguez in the Diego Forlan 'hole' behind Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

Rodriguez has had the added incentive of wanting to reach the finals because he missed out on South Africa when a four-match suspension picked up in the qualifiers meant he would be unavailable for the first two group games and Tabarez opted to leave him at home.

The defence is virtually unchanged and the same three holding midfielders are available for selection starting with the in-form Egidio Arevalo Rios.

Generational turnover comes in the form mainly of forwards Gaston Ramirez and Cristhian Stuani, while Nicolas Lodeiro has matured over the four-year cycle and brings creative talent to the midfield.

Coach: Oscar Washington Tabarez

Nicknamed El Maestro (teacher), Tabarez has been in charge for more than 100 matches over two spells - 1988-90 and from 2006.

When he leaves the job his legacy will have been to head Uruguay's most successful national team since 1970 and provided a sound platform for future generations of Uruguayan players.

As coach, the 66-year-old has led Uruguay to the World Cup semi-finals in 2010 and the country's record 15th Copa America crown in 2011. He has successfully handled the team's transition from one World Cup to the next, carefully introducing new talent while keeping the old guard fresh.

Forlan owed almost as much to Tabarez as to his own skills when he was voted the best player at the 2010 finals in South Africa and at 34 he is still a key member of the squad, now in a supersub role.

Key player: Luis Suarez

One of the top goal predators in the world, Suarez has forged a name for himself at the top of the game despite behaviour problems on the pitch, especially as a Liverpool player.

He is highly regarded by his peers and team-mates and his ability to score all types of goals while also creating chances for those around him has helped turn Liverpool into potential Premier League title contenders this season.

Suarez reads the game extremely well and this allows him to dart into scoring positions by surprise or set up team-mates. He runs tirelessly in and around the box and even as deep as the halfway line looking for the best option to link with fellow attackers.

He top-scored with 11 goals, one more than Argentina's Lionel Messi, in 14 appearances in the 16-match South American qualifying group, missing two through suspension. He holds the Uruguay scoring record with a tally of 39, three more than Diego Forlan.

How they qualified

South American zone 5th place; winners of inter-continental playoff v Jordan.

World Cup record

Previous appearances: 11 (1930, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, 1990, 2002, 2010)

Best performance: Winners 1930, 1950



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