Suarez, Cavani, Forlan leading Uruguay, ‘the team that no one wants to draw’ at World Cup 2014
Diego Forlan recorded a television commercial recently wearing a T-shirt that read: “We’re not the favourites, nor will we be a surprise. We are the team that no one wants to draw.”
That sums up Uruguay, the small South American country that finished fourth at the 2010 World Cup.
Uruguay has won the World Cup twice – in 1930 and 1950 – and is always a dangerous rival with a tough-nosed style of play and two of the world’s top forwards in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
“We’ll try to do what we did in South Africa,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. “We want to be a difficult team to play, nothing less. If we achieve this, it will take us close to our objective.”
The problem for Uruguay is Group D, where they are matched with England, Italy and Costa Rica. Finishing in the top two and getting out of the group would be an accomplishment.
“We are realists,” Suarez said. “Today’s football is tough, very difficult. We have go with a low profile, the way we did in South Africa, to try to achieve our goal.”
Uruguay opens on June 14 against Costa Rica in the northeastern city of Fortaleza. The team faces England in Sao Paulo on June 19, and closes with Italy in Natal on June 24.
Forlan, who was named the best player at the 2010 World Cup, joined Japanese club Cerezo Osaka in February. He will likely be a substitute this time, but offers lots of experience from playing days in Italy, Spain and Brazil.
He is hoping Japan may even boost his skills.
“The level of football (in Japan) is very high from both a technical and physical standpoint so if anything, I think this will be good preparation for the World Cup,” Forlan said after arriving in Japan.
Uruguay’s problem has come against European clubs. In South Africa four years ago, Uruguay did not win a match against European teams, drawing with France and losing to Germany and the Netherlands. Victories came against Mexico, South Africa, South Korea and Ghana.
The same thing happened last year at the Confederations Cup with losses against Italy and Spain.
With that in mind, Uruguay will play two European clubs in its final warm-up games, facing Northern Ireland on May 30 and Slovenia on June 4.
Although Uruguay is a small country with only 3.2 million people, it has produced some big talent.
The best-known name is Liverpool striker Suarez, followed by Paris-Saint Germain Cavani and Forlan.
Forlan was voted the best player at the 2010 World Cup and, despite being a substitute these days, is a valuable piece any team would want to have.
Here are five players to watch:
Luis Suarez – Expected to be Uruguay’s main threat. He is having his best season with Liverpool and could get the team back into the Champions League for the first time since 2010. But he has had his troubles.
He missed the start of this season, sitting out the remainder of a 10-game suspension for biting an opponent last season. He also served an eight-game ban for racially abusing a rival player in the Premier League.
“He has evolved in his game and his attitude,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. “Perhaps it’s because of the problems he had in England.”
Suarez scored three goals at the 2010 World Cup, and added four when Uruguay won the 2011 Copa America in Argentina. He was named player of the tournament.
Edinson Cavani – Joined French club Paris Saint-Germain in July 2013 on a five-year contract. The transfer fee was reported at 64 million euros (Dh324m), a league record.
He has been worth it. He has scored more than 20 goals for PSG and, with Suarez, poses one of the best 1-2 combinations at the World Cup.
Cavani’s goals are often spectacular, and he is just as famous for his tireless effort.
Diego Forlan – Was named the best player of the 2010 World Cup and shared the tournament scoring lead with five goals. He also scored twice in Uruguay’s 3-0 win over Paraguay in the 2011 Copa America final.
Forlan will be 35 when the World Cup opens and will likely be used in a reserve role this time. Few countries have such a back-up player to enter off the bench.
Martin Caceres – A defender who can play several spots on the backline.
Known for his strong passing game, he is a compliment to the aerial game of fellow defender Diego Lugano.
Diego Lugano – Uruguay’s inspirational captain, he symbolises the national team’s rough-and-tough style, known in Spanish as “garra.”
The central defender joined West Bromwich Albion in 2013. He’s been having trouble getting playing time in England, which is a worry. So is a knee injury he picked up in a friendly in match in March against Austria.
Lugano is a key player, and Uruguay will need him in top condition.
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Updated: April 9, 2014 04:00 AM