We’ve already discussed the Attackers, and the offensive midfield, so all that is left is the defense. Uruguay is known for having a tough defensive unit. They play with experience, muscle and, to steal a line from Stand and Deliver, “ganas.” Unfortunately, the team tends to be plagued by mental lapses that can straight up cost them games when they occur. That being said, if they can manage to keep their heads, they should keep a lot of teams out of the goal, because they also have a very good net-minder.
The starting four, left to right are most likely to be Martín Cáceres, Deigo “La Tota” Lugano, Diego Godín and Maximiliano “Maxi” Pereira. Cáceres was next on the GTKAU rotation before World Cup coverage put a stop to that, so now’s a good time to introduce him. The 27-year old plays for Juventus of the Italian Serie A. He made his debut for “La Celeste” back in 2007, and was a backup to Jorge Fucile during the 2010 World Cup. He started during the 2011 Copa América, helping Uruguay win their 15th South American championship. At 27, he should be hitting his prime at the right time.
Godín and Lugano should have no trouble manning the middle for this squad. Godín made himself famous a few weeks ago, when he scored the equalizer against FC Barcelona and gave his team, Atlético Madrid, the Spanish league championship. A week later, he momentarily gave Atlético a 1-0 lead in the UEFA Champions League final, although they would end up losing 4-1. He’s heading to Brazil not hoping to score goals, but rather stop them. Lugano, 33, is playing in his last World Cup. As the team captain, he’s hoping to help himself go out a winner. At 6’2″, he’s a little bit bigger than a lot of the attackers he faces, and he’s not afraid to throw his weight around. While this sometimes leads to yellows, he definitely had the ability to intimidate opponents… because he’s crazy. Never look into his eyes. He last played for West Bromwich Albion of the EPL.
Finally, there’s Maxi Pereira. Pereira, 30, who plays for Benfica of the Portuguese league, has been a staple of the starting defense for a long time now, making his international debut in 2005 and racking up 90 caps. This will be his second World Cup representing “La Celeste.” He played in every game in 2010, even scoring his first international goal in the semi-final against Holland. Like Lugano, he’s probably playing in his last Cup, at least as a starter.
José María Giménez, Sebastián Coates and Jorge Fucile make up the bench defenders, and they’re not bad in their own rights. Fucile, who plays for F.C. Porto, played wonderfully in South Africa, but even then it seemed that he was just keeping the roster spot warm for Cáceres. Coates, who plays for Liverpool of the EPL, is only 23 and will probably play a huge role in 2018, but I’m not quite sure he’s ready to make a splash in Brazil. At 19, María Giménez, also of Atlético Madrid, is the youngest player on this team. While that might make him the most exciting player on the squad by default, I don’t expect him to do too much in Brazil, unless some people get hurt. Look out for him to take it all in this year, and break out in 2018.
Although Uruguay is carrying three, I really should only talk about one of their goalies–Fernando Muslera (pictured at the very top). Yes Martín Silva of Vasco de Gama (Brazilian league) and Rodrígo Muñoz of the Paraguayan team Libertad are along for the trip, but we’re in a lot of trouble if those guys have to get into a game. Muslera, who plays for the Turkish side Galatasaray, is one of the stars of this team. He made his debut with the national team in 2009, and has been the regular starter since before the 2010 Cup. His height (6’3″) helps him mind a good net, and he’s shown a real knack for stopping penalty kicks, especially in South Africa. He also almost singlehandedly helped Uruguay beat Argentina during the Copa América in 2011 (his save on Carlos Tevez was absurd). At 27, he should be at his peak, and Uruguay will need him.
With that, we are officially done previewing the Uruguayan squad. I guess I’ll see you guys before Game 1!
Featured image courtesy of: Lars Baron/Getty Images Europe)
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