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2022 World Cup Team Preview: Uruguay

Two-Time Champions Set for 14th Appearance

Sleeping Giant

Uruguay hosted and won the first edition of the World Cup. They also won the fourth one, held in Brazil. Since then, Los Charruas haven’t been able to advance to the Grand Finale. That could change in Qatar 2022 as they own a very talented, balanced squad led by Luis Suarez and Darwin Nunez.

Uruguay isn’t among the betting online favorites to dethrone France, but that’s all right, they actually like to be underdogs.

Uruguay’s players celebrate scoring the opening goal
Vladmir Simicek / AFP

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How Did They Get to Qatar 2022?

Brazil and Argentina dominated the CONMEBOL qualifiers, finishing first and second with 45 and 39 points, respectively. They were followed by Uruguay with 28 thanks to an 8-4-6 record, 22 goals for and another 22 against. I told you, we’re talking about a balanced team.

After losing to Bolivia on Matchday 14, Los Charruas won their last four games by an 8-1 aggregate to secure third place. They finished two points ahead of Ecuador and four ahead of Peru.

Suarez led the way with eight goals. He was followed by Giorgian de Arrascaeta with five. Nunez only scored one goal, but his performances with Benfica were enough for Liverpool to break the bank in order to sign him.

Head Coach and Top Players

Oscar Washington Tabarez coached Uruguay’s national team from 2006 to 2021, meaning he was in charge when the road to the 2022 WC began. Nevertheless, some health issues forced him to step aside.

That’s when the front office decided to hire Diego Alonso, a young but experienced head coach that won it all with Pachuca, one of Mexico’s powerhouses. Alonso led Los Tuzos to the Liga MX title, the CONCACAF Champions League title and third place in the FIFA Club World Cup.

He took over Uruguay’s national team on Dec. 14, 2021. Since then, Los Charruas are 7-1-1, which means the change was for the better.

I agree with my colleague Alex on choosing Suarez and Nunez as Uruguay’s top players, but Federico Valverde and Ronald Araujo also deserve some praise. Valverde is one of the main reasons why Real Madrid don’t miss Cristiano Ronaldo. He can play everywhere, literally, and he’s very good at long distance shots. As for Araujo, he has become one of the best center-backs in the world while playing alongside Gerard Pique in Barcelona.

Valverde is 24 years old while Araujo is 23. In other words, the team is and will be in good hands once Suarez decides to retire.

Uruguay in the 2022 World Cup

As mentioned before, Uruguay isn’t among the favorites to win the title in Qatar. Los Charruas are offering a +5000 price in the sportsbook, while Brazil is +400 and England is +700.

Things are a bit different when it comes to winning Group H, in which they’ll face South Korea, Portugal and Ghana, in that order. As expected, Portugal dominates the soccer lines at -165. They’re followed by Los Charruas at +200 while South Korea and Ghana are +1200.

Keep in mind that Uruguay has made it out of the Group Stage in each of the last three editions. Most recently, they finished fifth after losing to France in the quarterfinals of the 2018 edition.

Individually, Suarez is offering a +5000 price to win the Golden Boot, same as Nunez. There’s also Edinson Cavani, who’s offering a +8000 price. The veteran striker didn’t contribute much during the qualifiers, but he recently signed with Valencia and is expected to return to his best form right on time.

History of Uruguay and the World Cup

As mentioned before, Uruguay has won the title twice. They finished the 1930 edition undefeated, and 20 years later, they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in WC history. They defeated Brazil, in Maracana Stadium, 2-1 in the last game to win the Cup. Brazil was the favorite due to playing at home and the fact that prior to facing Uruguay they crushed Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1.

Los Charruas advanced to the semifinals in 1954 and 2010. The 2010 edition was also held in Brazil, and they ended up losing 3-2 to Netherlands. They also lost 3-2 to Germany in the match for third place. Since 2002, they’ve only missed the 2006 edition.

Oscar Miguez, who scored five goals in the 1950 edition and three in 1954, remains the country’s top scorer at the WC. Nevertheless, Suarez is only one goal behind, meaning he’ll have a very good chance to rewrite history in Qatar.

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