Copa America appetizers: Uruguay, with or without you
June 9, 2016
Uruguay, the country with most Copa America titles is ecstatic over the agony of Luis Suárez fitness. Injured with FC Barcelona in the last game of the season he's treating his injury and is limited to playing as a goalkeeper in the training sessions.
After his red card for his bite on Chiellini's neck during the World Cup and his fine by FIFA Uruguay has struggled. Eliminated from the World Cup, then lost to hosts Chile in last year's Copa America in the infamous game of the Cavani vs Jara incident, la Celeste has failed to impress. On the other hand, they are leading the South American group in the Qualifying stage for Russia 2018.
As fierce competitors as they are, the team doesn't score enough goals. Edison Cavani is playing solo most of the time and while Suárez was absent it was not enough, even though El Matador was acting in his favorite role as a center forward, not on the wing as he does at his club PSG, where that spot was reserved for Ibrahimovic.
The team's leader and key player now is the centre back Diego Godin. The chief of the defense is also an accurate header who has the sense of opportunity to score when it is vital for the team. A veteran of the Uruguayan school he knows all the tricks of a South American defender with the surplus of his own garra Charrúa.
Uruguay has an old squad. The team is starting to feel the absence of replacements for players that are getting old and young players are not establishing themselves in the Starting XI. So far only José María Jimenez from Atletico Madrid (Godin's team also) can secure a spot on the team. The late arrival of Matías Vecino, from Fiorentina, is the only piece of good news.
The keys for success are the same as always. Great defense, playing on the edge of the rules (Uruguay is the team with most red cards in Copa America history), strong aerial game, direct passing and long balls forward.
The only problem is that one part of the plan is missing, center forward Luis Suárez. Uruguay has a rather easy group and they should make it to the next round. Once there if No9 is available Uruguay has a lot to say and some revenge to take. If he is not fit, they could crash out of the Cup.
Diego Godin. Captain, leader, and occasional goal scorer. Heart and soul.
Luis Suárez. The frontman. Feared and fearless. Scores most of his chances. His character is his only enemy.
Edinson Cavani. Struggles without Suárez. A physical force with very good skills. Needs to be the player he has been at club level.
Matías Vecino. A left side midfielder who completed a solid campaign for Fiorentina in Italy's Serie A has earned himself a place on the team and should offer vitality on that side of the field.
Oscar Tabarez. He is seen as the Alex Ferguson of Uruguay. Legendary coach who has now to rejuvenate his squad. A fighter, who has several tricks under his sleeves. He needs to be less defensive pushing the team forward because not always they will face superior teams.