Uruguay have played two friendlies prior to their World Cup opener against Costa Rica as they prepare for their campaign in Brazil starting on June 14th.
Their first tune up game was against Northern Ireland in Montevideo as they won 1-0. Christian Stuani scored the only goal of the match off of an Edinson Cavani assist.
Stuani was a second half substitute replacing Diego Forlan. The Espanyol forward has scored four goals in 10 caps with the national team, but only had six goals in 34 appearances for his club, granted half of them were as a winger. That versatility could come in handy, especially with coach Oscar Tabarez most likely deploying a 4-3-3 during the tournament.
The match stats told the story despite the slim scoreline. La Celeste had 52% possession and 16 shots to Northern Ireland’s four. However, 10 of Uruguay’s attempts were off-target. That must improve, especially in their final two group games against England and Italy.
Los Charruas’ second and final friendly was also in Montevideo as they took on Slovenia. Tabarez made just one change from the Northern Ireland game, with Diego Godin replacing Sebastian Coates in the centre of defence. The team was setup in a 4-4-2, just like the previous fixture.
Uruguay once again controlled the tempo and were able to double their output of goals, winning 2-0 in the end. Cavani and Stuani were involved once again, but the former scored one of his own before his teammate buried another in the second half.
The match was closely contested despite the score. Both sides had 50% possession, the shots were nearly identical with Uruguay out-shooting Slovenia 13-10, but it was a far superior performance compared to the Northern Ireland game.
Tabarez’s Uruguay is known to be tactically versatile, so it’ll be difficult to figure out they’ll line up. That may be why they were in a 4-4-2 as opposed to their usual 4-3-3.
As for La Celeste’s performances, they’ll be relatively pleased with how they progressed. Slovenia was very close to qualifying for the Round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup, but the United States and England pipped them to it. The Slovenians also had a near full strength starting 11.
The Northern Ireland showing was slightly disappointing, but it was the first friendly for Uruguay and were experimenting with a couple of players and systems. Tabarez should be satisfied with what he saw from his attack, especially given that they’ll probably have to carry the squad during the tournament.
Uruguay are seemingly in good health entering the World Cup. Star striker Luis Suarez claims he’s healthy and had no intention missing any games, Tabarez seems to know which players will be integral to success and the mood appears to be positive.
Considering all of the injuries that have been popping up, any team entering the World Cup with a clean bill of health gives them a leg up on their opponents. Uruguay can luckily say they’re one of them and have properly geared up for their opening fixture against Costa Rica.