Two-time winners now 35/1
Uruguay booked their place at the World Cup after finishing second behind runaway leaders Brazil in the South American qualifying group of 10 teams. A record of nine wins and four draws against five defeats gifted 31 points but they needed a big finish to claim silver.
Unbeaten in their last four qualifying matches, Uruguay saw off Argentina who retuned three draws and a win over the same period to end three points behind. That’s certainly not to be sniffed at but will La Celeste deliver when it matters?
Odds-makers aren’t holding out much hope and are confident enough to trade as big as 35/1 on the upset. That’s a chunky offer but let’s not forget they were football’s first ever winners of the World Cup and have their name on the trophy twice – 1930 and 1950. That makes them the fifth most successful nation, ranked higher than the likes of France, Spain and Holland.
Who are the stars of the current team? Here’s three players to watch out for in sky blue…..
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A bit of bite in attack
He may not be the game’s most-liked player but he’s a striker with a proven track record of scoring important goals and he’ll line-up as Uruguay’s best hope of firing their way to the knock-out stages. The Barcelona forward has netted a record 50 times in 97 games for his country and he’ll board the plane with confidence to burn following an impressive season with Barca dominating La Liga.
The former Liverpool player is a man who enjoys grabbing important goals in the big games and proved it again when netting a double in the Copa del Rey final during a 5-0 masterclass from his side vs Sevilla. Star of the show, his two goals were added to by Messi, Iniesta and Correia. Uruguay will need players to stand up and be counted and in Suarez they have just that.
There’s plenty of goals in this team on paper but we must see the nation’s star players work together for the greater good. Alongside Luis Suarez we’ll have PSG goal-getter Edison Cavani who already has 42 in 100 caps. At 31 years old this will surely be Cavani’s last appearance at a World Cup, certainly as a threat, and he’ll be chomping at the bit to make it count.
PSG didn’t live up to expectations on the Champions League, but they were completely dominant in France, winning Ligue 1 with plenty to spare and their number 9 chipped in with a few important goals along the way, both domestically and on the continent. Showed his eye for an important goal when scoring in a 1-0 win over Wales at the China Cup back in the spring. 33/1 says he’ll win the golden boot.
Lots of flair and goals going forward but it’s how Uruguay defend that’ll determine how far they go at Russia 2018. In captain Diego Godin they have an experienced defender and cool head under pressure at the back and that’ll be just as important as Suarez and Cavani hitting the net. The 32-year-old is another drinking in the last chance saloon and that should inspire a special effort.
The 6ft 1inch centre back, currently employed by Atletico Madrid, has had a great season for his club with Atletico making waves in the Europa League where he proved his worth at both ends of the park. An important part of a watertight defence and leader when under fire, Diego can also be trusted to get forward and make a nuisance of himself at set-pieces. Dangerous due to his size and strength he was unlucky to have a goal ruled out against Sporting Lisbon in the latter stages of the tournament.