ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
|Uruguay finished fifth in the Conmebol
league on goaldifference in front of Colombia and secured the right to play-off against Australia for one spot. Uruguay
won over two legs.
here for details
|Participations: (9) 1930, 1950,
1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986 and 1990
|Best placing: Winners 1930 and
|Topscorer: Juan Schiaffino,
detailed history information
|Alvaro Recoba is the keyman for this Uruguayan team who
has struggled to find the net. He is quick, technically very good and has a gifted left foot. He is also very strong
on set-pieces capable of scoring from free-kicks.
VERDICT: First round exit
|Uruguay are a solid team defensively and
are likely to feature in three low-scoring games in this World Cup. France are out
of reach for them, but they are in with a chance for that much coveted second place. However,
their scoring problems might put them on the earliest possible flight home. We believe so.
MYTH MAKERS SEARCHING FOR A NEW LEGEND
by Matthew Monk
Uruguay are football's great lost power. To someone
growing up in the 1940s or 1950s the name Uruguay
meant footballing excellence; it meant skill and
verve. Uruguay were the first South American masters
of the game. First they came to Europe and beat the
Europeans at the Olympics, then they invited the
Europeans to South America and beat them there as well
- but this time it was for the first World Cup.
Afraid of losing their best players to Italy and Spain
they largely ignored the 1934 and 1938 contests, but
at the first tournament after the Second World War
they re-emerged. And they won the World Cup again -
this time beating Brazil in the Maracana in front of
200 000 crazy, partisan fans.
Uruguay were mythical, they were legendary, they were
unbeatable. Then they disappeared off the face of the
football world, never to return as a success. Sure,
Uruguay still have a great record in the Copa America,
and they have qualified for their share of World Cups
down the years, but a football fan today is as likely
to identify Uruguay with the violence of the 1986
version as they are with the sublime skills of
Schiaffino, Cubilla or Francescoli. Uruguay are no
longer at the forefront of South American futbÚl - in
truth they are very much a middling side, well below
the standards set by Argentina, Brazil or even
Colombia. But at least they are going to Korea.
The last of the 32 teams to reach the finals, Uruguay
did not have the hardest or most convoluted
qualification. Far from it, by virtue of finishing
fifth in the South American section they were awarded
with a play-off against Australia, a relatively
straightforward route. Saying that though, Uruguay
did have to play 18 games just to get that far. And
when you add on the two-legged play-off, and tens of
thousands of air miles clocked up flying between
Montevideo and Melbourne, the whole hyper extended
nature of the modern World Cup becomes clear.
It was also an incredibly tight qualification.
Uruguay only edged out Colombia by one goal, and while
they eventually scored three goals against the
Australians in Montevideo's famous old Estadio
Centenario, the one-nil defeat they suffered in
Melbourne meant five sleepless nights for most Uruguay
Uruguay seemed to struggle to score enough goals -
only scoring 19, from 18 qualifiers, tells its own
tale. On the other hand though, Uruguay do not
concede many goals - even Argentina conceded more than
Uruguay's paltry 13. It is strange then that
Uruguay's undoubted star player is an attacker, Alvaro
Recoba of Internazionale. Reputedly one of the
highest (if not the highest) paid players in the
world, Recoba has the talent to turn any match he
plays in. He has electric pace, and a remarkable
touch on the ball, that come together (when he is on
form) to make him one of the most feared attackers in
It has not always been this way for Recoba though. He
may well be sitting at the top of the Italian Serie A
right now, and his goalscoring record since March has
been outstanding, but going back only 18 months he
seemed to be the odd man out at Inter. Stories
abounded that Recoba was up for sale, and at a low
price. He was supposed to be going to Liverpool one
week, the next he was going to Celtic, then he was
going back to South America or he may have been
staying in Italy, but certainly not at Inter. But he
stuck it out, gained a regular place (and a real
passport) when Vieri and Ronaldo got yet another
injury, and has come on massively ever since. With a
fully firing Recoba, Uruguay have a good chance of
success in Korea. But on his own Recoba will be able
to do little - he is no Maradona or Pelť.
So who does he have with him? Standing dominant in
defence is Paolo Montero of Juventus. Three or four
years ago Montero was regarded as one of the
strongest, toughest, most uncompromising defenders in
Europe. Today he is slower, and less mobile, but
nonetheless still as imposing as ever. Unfortunately
for the Uruguayans he is also seriously injured - his
knee ligament damage should be cleared up by mid
April, but no one recovers fully from that type of
injury so fast. Without him Uruguay will not be
serious contenders. With him, Uruguay will have a
After Recoba and Montero, Uruguay will look to the
likes of Gianni Guigou of Roma, Walter Pandiani of
Deportivo and Dario Silva of Malaga to pose problems.
But though these players possess lots of ability, they
are not regarded as being part of Europe's elite.
They will be hard to beat, but will not be unbeatable.
So a decent, solid side has reached the World Cup
Finals. They cannot be classed as probable winners
though. How far can they go? Drawn in a tough group,
alongside Senegal (recent runners' up in the African
Cup of Nations), Denmark (who so nearly eliminated
Brazil four years ago) and World and European
Champions France, you have to wonder whether the
Uruguayans will even reach the Second Round.
It will be vitally important that Uruguay defeat
Denmark in their opening game in Ulsan - a loss here,
and they are as good as out already. If they can win
(or at least avoid defeat) Uruguay will then face
their biggest test, the mighty French in Busan. Now
one of two things could happen here. First the French
could be looking for a second victory to secure
qualification. That would be a hard enough task for
Uruguay to face but the second possibility is even
If France somehow fail against Senegal - and it is not
inconceivable that the curse of the opening game could
hit, and we could get yet another draw - they will
come to the Uruguay game desperate for a win. In
either circumstance, it will be a big achievement for
Uruguay to stop France winning, and a draw is the best
they can hope for.
So two games in, Uruguay can hope for four points at
best, but more realistically will be looking at only
one or two. That makes the final game against Senegal
do or die. Unfortunately for Uruguay, Senegal will
either be out by this stage (and playing for pride) or
very much in with a chance of qualification. These
are both bad scenarios. Senegal playing for pride is
probably as hard as Senegal playing for a place in the
last 16. It will take all of the wiles of Recoba, and
all of the steel of Montero to see a victory through.
But just too much is up in the air in this group.
Apart from predicting a French victory, this group is
much too close to call. If you were forced to pick a
second placed team, you would probably go for Denmark,
but it is possible for Uruguay to go through. That
will be that though.
Lying in wait for Uruguay (or whoever comes second) is
the winner of Group F - and that almost certainly
means England or Argentina - and almost certain
elimination. Even if Uruguay somehow get past that
hurdle, next up come Brazil, and then the French
again. This is not going to be a competition Uruguay
is going to win.
Two World Cup victories is something England and
France cannot claim. It is something that Argentina
have only been able to achieve in the last 20 years.
It is a remarkable achievement for a country so small,
and so long off of the main stage of football. It is
not an achievement Uruguay is going to add to this
summer. Instead of counting success in terms of the
overall victory though, most Uruguay fans would settle
for progress to the last 16, with honour coming in
defeat. It is a long way back to the top of the
football ladder, and as yet Uruguay are still down on
the bottom rungs. Taking a few steps further up would
do very nicely this summer.
A BRIEF WORLD CUP HISTORY
by Jan Alsos
Uruguay were the World Cupís first champions - on home soil in
1930 beating Argentina in a memorable final 4-2. They had dominated world football in the
Olympics prior to 1930 so the success was no surprise. They didnít travel to Europe to
defend their title in Italy 1934 because the Italians themselves didnít bother to travel to
Uruguay four years earlier for the inaugural tournament.
Uruguay were absent also in France 1938, but were back after the war in 1950 in Brazil. In
the first round they faced only one team, Bolivia, and spanked them 8-0. It sent them to the
final pool of four where the winners of this mini-league were crowned champions. Brazil and
Uruguay met in the last match and the setting was simple. Brazil needed only a draw to
become champions, Uruguay needed to win. 200,000 people packed the Maracana stadium
in Rio and saw Brazil take the lead. The battling Uruguayans led by captain Varela turned the
game and won 2-1 shocking both the home crowd and the footballing world. Uruguay were
The World Cup was held in Switzerland four years later and this time Uruguay came to
defend the title and came close to succeeding. They went all the way to the semifinals where
they needed to field three reserve players against the mighty Hungarians who won after extra
time. Many believe a full strength Uruguay would have won this game.
Uruguayís golden era was over. They qualified for both Chile Ď62 and England Ď66, but didnít
impress in any of the tournaments. The semifinal was reached again in 1970, but
with defensive methods this time. Only four goals were scored in the six games they played in
Mexico. Goalkeeper Mazurkiewicz was their most influential player.
A first round exit in West Germany 1974 meant a farewell to Uruguay for twelve years. They
didnít qualify again until Mexico 1986. This was the year Uruguay lost 6-1 to Denmark and
had Batista sent off within a minute against Scotland. Uruguay got a bad reputation which has
stuck to them almost to this day. They didnít impress in Italy 1990 either, but reached the
second round where Italy stopped further advancement.
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