2018 World Cup Country Overview: Uruguay

Alex Campean

Monday, February 26, 2018 7:23 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 7:23 PM UTC

Players such as Barcelona’s Luis Suarez make La Celeste their group favorites, and opponents in the knockout stages could be in trouble if the team's offense gets hot.

World Cup Russia 2018: Uruguay

La Celeste is the smallest country in the world population-wise to have won the World Cup -- in 1930 as hosts of the tournament, beating Argentina 4-2 in the final; and in 1950, defeating Brazil 2-1. They have the record of being the only country to win Copa America 15 times, earning seven of those on home soil. The South American qualifying group stage is one of the toughest in the world but Uruguay comfortably qualified, finishing second in the CONMEBOL group behind Brazil. They are ninth-favorite to win the World Cup trophy, priced at +3300 with Paddy Power.

Oscar Tabarez has been in charge of La Celeste since 2006, guiding them to the World Cup semifinals in 2010 in South Africa, losing 2-3 against the Netherlands. Uruguay has a talented squad packed with skillful players, with a physical defense backing up super-attacking firepower. Tabarez's favorite system is 4-4-2, having a defensive approach and trying to catch their opponents on the break, giving away the possession. They are huge favorites to win Group A, but because of their huge ups and downs they might struggle to go far in the knockout stages.

As part of their WC preparation, Uruguay will play in the 2018 China Cup alongside the competition hosts, Wales and Czech Republic, with the tournament falling within FIFA’s international schedule from March 19-27. Tabarez has a difficult task in naming the 23-player roster and it be very interesting which version he will choose and what kind of approach he will use. They were unlucky to be drawn in Group A against hosts Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Key Players

Goalkeeper: Signed by Lazio Roma in 2007, Galatasaray's Fernando Muslera is considered to be the best goalkeeper of his generation and will surely be Tabarez’s top choice.

Defender: Atletico Madrid’s brilliant duo of captain Diego Godin and youngster Jose Gimenez will try their best not to leave spaces and have a rock-solid defense. They are both enjoying an amazing season with their club fighting Barcelona for La Liga title and trying to win the Europa League trophy again. Godin’s leadership will be crucial in Russia as he is one of the best defenders in the world.

Midfielder: Juventus’ Rodrigo Bentancur, Deportivo La Coruna’s Federico Valverde and Inter Milan’s Matias Vecino are young attacking-minded talents who already have earned a place in La Celeste starting XI and will travel Russia together with their more experienced teammates. Their skills and energy will increase Uruguay’s chances to go deep in the tournament.

Striker: Only an injury might keep Barcelona’s Luis Suarez and PSG’s Edinson Cavani off the World Cup squad. The European superstar strikers are winning their domestic leagues (La Liga and Ligue 1), having an exceptional season for their clubs and being among the top European goalscorers. Their level of play, limitless potential and attacking ability -- making them two of the most deadly strikers in the world -- will be vital for Uruguay’s fate in Russia. If their teammates can provide them with decent assists, their opponents will be in big trouble.

World Cup Schedule

June 15 vs. Egypt

June 20 vs. Saudi Arabia

June 25 vs. Russia

Betting Markets

To win the tournament at +3300 with Betfair

To reach the final at +1800 with Betfred

To reach quarterfinals at +120 with Marathonbet.com

Group A Winners at +100 with Coral

Edinson Cavani to be Uruguay’s Top Goalscorer at +125 with Bet Victor

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