As part of PortuGOAL’s series looking at Portugal’s Group H opponents at the Qatar World Cup, the focus turns to Uruguay.

Uruguay knocked the Seleção out of the 2018 World Cup, and several familiar faces from that side are still part of the South American team.

Uruguayan football expert Álvaro Perez tells us what we need to know about the team Portugal play on 28 November at the Lusail Iconic Stadium. 

 

Ones to watch - Who are Uruguay’s star players?

Outside of Luis Suarez (Nacional) and Edinson Cavani (Valencia), the players most growing in popularity would be Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid) and Darwin Nuñez (Liverpool).

There’s also Ronald Araujo (Barcelona), who may actually be fit for the tournament.

 

Formation and playing style – what system do Uruguay usually play? Would you describe them generically as an attacking or a defensive team?

Since Diego Alonso came on as Uruguay’s manager, it’s been said that he “freed” the younger midfielders, and even defenders to attack. Uruguay has tried to take control of games in a way that wasn’t seen very often under Oscar Tabarez (2006-2022).

Having said that, I think we haven’t had a chance to see the team’s adaptive abilities at all. Alonso took over very late in the campaign, and only had a few friendlies to essentially test out some new systems.

My concern has to do more with the individual players. Will the young players respond to the pressure? Can Suarez, Cavani and Godin rise to the occasion despite playing younger opposition? With this tournament, I find that anything could happen. 

My predicted starting XI (4-4-2):  Rochet; Coates, Josema, Rodriguez, Olivera; Valverde, Bentancur, Vecino, Pellistri; Suarez/Cavani, Darwin

 


If the World Cup trophy was awarded to the country with the best presentation of their World Cup squad, there is little doubt Uruguay would be crowned champions of Qatar 2022


 

Mood in the camp – do you think Uruguay come into the World Cup in a confident frame of mind?

The mood in the camp has been very positive. There’s a feeling that key players are in great form in their clubs in Europe. Moreover, you have veteran players like Godin, Suarez, and Cavani leading the ship, so people feel that the younger players will be taken care of.

Overall, it’s a very special moment in the lives of these players. In Uruguay, players are raised from early childhood on stories of La Celeste’s World Cup history dating back to hosting the inaugural tournament, so this tournament means the everything to them.

 

What was the reaction in the Uruguayan media and among the fans to the World Cup draw?

The first reaction was a reminder that Uruguay played all three nations (relatively) recently in knockout games. Each match carries a lot of memories for Uruguayans (Korea in 2010, Ghana in 2010 and Portugal in 2018), so this sort of feels like a bit of a “rematch group”.

Other than that, the reaction was that it’s going to be a tight group versus some exciting rivals. I watched a report by Uruguayan journalists of all three teams, and the one they were the most impressed with was Portugal, stating they had stars in nearly every position.

 

Prediction time! Give us your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th place predictions for Group H.

I’d like to think that Uruguay and Portugal can make it out, but a World Cup is just different emotionally. Playing Ghana and South Korea will not be easy. I’d be happy just getting out of the group.

 

Our thanks to Álvaro. To keep up to speed on all things Uruguayan football, be sure to follow him @UruguayFootENG on Twitter.

 

Related: World Cup opposition watch: the lowdown on South Korea 

Related: World Cup opposition watch: the lowdown on Ghana

 

Comments (18)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Can someone tell Mr Ronaldo to shut the hell up!!!!!

Rodrigues Antonio
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where is this coming from?

Jerrold Hewson
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The voices in his head.

Chris
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Bruno Fernandes, is that you?

Paulo
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Yes it's Bruno here.

Rodrigues Antonio
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Valverde as playmaker and Darwin Nuñez upfront can do a hell of a damage. The form- trajectory goes straight up for both. If the rest of the team can keep up and the (relatively new) coach implements the right balance… then I see Uruguay go very...

Valverde as playmaker and Darwin Nuñez upfront can do a hell of a damage. The form- trajectory goes straight up for both. If the rest of the team can keep up and the (relatively new) coach implements the right balance… then I see Uruguay go very far, especially if they should finish too of the group. Uruguay - Ghana will be a classic fight worth watching. Uruguay‘s team spirit and their „Garra Charrua“ are something special. I like them.

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Rolf Gerber
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renato sanches at home haha ? ? ? still am gob smacked ? ? ? what an idiot santos is leaving sanches proven and guedes at home ?

Tomas Sheehan
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Personally I would have taken him however given his awful injury record I don't find it surprising he's been left out. The guy needs to stay fit for a full season! As I've said, I would have taken him still since I think he has quite unique...

Personally I would have taken him however given his awful injury record I don't find it surprising he's been left out. The guy needs to stay fit for a full season! As I've said, I would have taken him still since I think he has quite unique qualities but I can't say I find it too controversial he's been left home.

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Santos
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I have a really bad feeling about this world cup.
I think we'll squeak by to the R16, then get knocked out. This is of course after laboring through 3 group games where Portugal scores first. Then sits back and allows the other team to pin them...

I have a really bad feeling about this world cup.
I think we'll squeak by to the R16, then get knocked out. This is of course after laboring through 3 group games where Portugal scores first. Then sits back and allows the other team to pin them in their half.

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Mike D
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R16 is the official goal that allows FS to continue until 2024, or did I get it wrong? Also nice that FS already got his instructions from his boss („I don‘t allow a coach to put me in three minutes“). All good, isn‘t it? R16 is the goal, all it...

R16 is the official goal that allows FS to continue until 2024, or did I get it wrong? Also nice that FS already got his instructions from his boss („I don‘t allow a coach to put me in three minutes“). All good, isn‘t it? R16 is the goal, all it takes to ensure that this team keeps existing. Because without FS and CR, it will implode and suddenly find themselves at the level of teams like Andorra and Gibraltar. I mean, that is totally obvious, isn‘t it?

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Rolf Gerber
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I have a feeling the team needs to do better and a semi final appearance might be the only way Santos keeps his job. I might be a bit delusional, but I really hope the federation remembers the following...

WC2018...
Tied Iran 1-1, beat Morocco...

I have a feeling the team needs to do better and a semi final appearance might be the only way Santos keeps his job. I might be a bit delusional, but I really hope the federation remembers the following...

WC2018...
Tied Iran 1-1, beat Morocco 1-0 and came in 2nd in the group by 1 point and with only a +1 GD.
Lost 2-1 to Uruguay

EURO2020...
Came in 3rd in our group! lost 1-0 to Belgium

WC2022 Qualifying... SERBIA!!! And then had Italy not had the strangest turn in form I've ever seen we would not have qualified.

Nations League

Now we all understand that Euro 2016 buys Mr. Santos a lot of patience... but remember that the team limped into the knock-outs with 3 draws (one of which was on the back of a 29 year old CR7 at his absolute peak) and then ultimately won that glorious final in a game where the football Gods decided us Portuguese had suffered enough and it all came together somehow. Listen, I will love those players forever... but watch a replay today and its almost comical how Patricio stole it for us while the big bounces went our way.

Surely, the Federation expects more from this team than a R16 knock-out!

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Nelson
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Yes Nelson. Common sense says that the semis should be the goal and everything else is not enough to justify the continuation with the current configuration. But I am 100% sure that quarter finals will save Santos' head. In the betting round with...

Yes Nelson. Common sense says that the semis should be the goal and everything else is not enough to justify the continuation with the current configuration. But I am 100% sure that quarter finals will save Santos' head. In the betting round with colleagues where I'm in, Portugal's exit will be in the quarters against Germany (that is just child play, sure).
You list all the poor results in the previous tournaments, which is quite eye-opening in terms of what the results really were about. Best Portugal I have seen from Santos so far was Nations League winners 2019. Something is going wrong here and it starts from the top. I would not set too much trust into FPF. The "living in the past" and hanging on to old glorious times is something that is not uncommon for Portugal. On a cultural level, this is an important element of the uniqueness and strong identity that Portugal has as a country. But the FPF is loyal To Santos and Ronaldo to an extent that it is not healthy anymore. This personalized loyalty, justified by merits and achievements of the past, is hindering the NT to progress - and ironically, it is hindering Portugal to stay true to it's football heritage and roots. Because Santos stands for "try not to lose", and Ronaldo is a one-man-show. It is weird: If there IS a Portuguese heritage in international football, then it is joga bonito - maybe a bit complicated play, but of incomparable beauty to watch. Possession play, great individual skills, fast wingers, fast passing tin the opposition's box, beautifully played goals. Today, the squad is there to bring this to a new level - a squad not only to play the Portuguese game, but only to finally succeed.

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Rolf Gerber
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Rolf, appreciate this great context. It's sad though, I feel like CR7 has inspired a bunch of youngsters to believe they and we can punch above our weight... then there is the excellent work of our academies. I don't want to compare generations...

Rolf, appreciate this great context. It's sad though, I feel like CR7 has inspired a bunch of youngsters to believe they and we can punch above our weight... then there is the excellent work of our academies. I don't want to compare generations here, but I don't remember this team ever having such depth at so many positions. We need a conductor that can pull it all together.

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Nelson
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Nunez has been a bit underwhelming at Liverpool. This is a better Portugal team than in 2018 and overall top to bottom Uruguay was a better team in 2018 than they are now. Portugal should be able to get 3 points here.

Gee Dee
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I tend to agree with your assessment of both teams. Hopefully we can get the 3 points. Valverde is on fire though, so it would be good if we could shut him down. I say stick Otavio or Palhinha on him and deny him the ball.

Chris
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I hate to say this but it may be true; Uruguay has a better midfield and attack. Yikes! Portugal finishing second or third is a very real possibility, and this isn't the Euros where a team can draw its way to a final.

Dan DaSilva
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Valverde is the only midfielder on the whole Uruguay team who would compete for a starting berth in our line up...

And Nunez? Has he seen the field at Liverpool?

Suarez? guys kind of washed...

Don't expect Cavani to get too many minutes.

The...

Valverde is the only midfielder on the whole Uruguay team who would compete for a starting berth in our line up...

And Nunez? Has he seen the field at Liverpool?

Suarez? guys kind of washed...

Don't expect Cavani to get too many minutes.

The only reason we should not get three points here against Uruguay is due to the ineptitude of Santos; which is always quite likely.

But, based on paper alone, we should easily finish this group with 9 points and goals to spare.

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Martim Lucena
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Iam convinced we are the most complete squad in this tournament, from wing backs straight through to our strikers, we have an abundance of depth, the fact that most Seleção fans cannot stop bringing up that Sanches was left at home speaks volumes...

Iam convinced we are the most complete squad in this tournament, from wing backs straight through to our strikers, we have an abundance of depth, the fact that most Seleção fans cannot stop bringing up that Sanches was left at home speaks volumes to this depth. We were a better squad ( in my opinion) when we faced Uruguai in 2018 and we still are the better squad. We will WIN this fixture this iam sure.

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Robert Martins
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