The Atlético Madrid pair of Diego Godín and José María Giménez face crucial months in the heart of the defence for their club and country
Although Uruguay are currently attracting attention for its great strikers, the nation has largely been known for delivering quality defenders over the years. It dates all the way back to the early days of the beautiful game when La Celeste dominated the international stage.
Central defender José Nasazzi captained Uruguay to glory in the first-ever World Cup in 1930 after also playing an important role in two Olympic titles, which back then was considered the elite tournament in world football as the World Cup didn’t exist.
A few decades later, another master at the back was born in Uruguay. José Santamaría embarked on an illustrious career which saw him win four European cups with Real Madrid in one of the greatest club sides ever seen. He was also part of the Uruguay 1954 World Cup team that finished fourth.
In recent memory, some names that stood out were Juventus legend Paolo Montero and inspiring Uruguay captain Diego Lugano. Nowadays, national team manager Óscar Tabárez can count on two other fantastic players that have the winning mentality tattooed on their souls.
The men in question are Diego Godín and José María Giménez. The pair defend the colours of both Uruguay and Atlético Madrid and have formed a solid partnership over the years. Godín has become a mentor to his younger compatriot since his arrival at the club and has seen Giménez develop from a teenager, to a player getting more and more familiar with the demands of being a top defender.
José Giménez on Diego Godín:
"Diego has taught me a lot. Everything he teaches me, I try to take it on board." pic.twitter.com/MMUtguR7pC
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) June 6, 2017
The Uruguayans are not completely dissimilar but do have different profiles that complement each other’s game. With both players on opposite spectrums of their careers – Giménez; 23, Godín; 32 – the first thing that sets them apart is their energy. Godín was never blessed with a great deal of pace but a deterioration has been noticeable.
It does present a problem as Godín is getting more and more uncomfortable with too much space behind his back, which might not happen too often taking both Uruguay and Atlético’s game plans in mind, but still is a liability. Giménez, on the other hand, has enough speed to track a through ball and neutralize a counterattack.
While pace is not a problem for Giménez, rashness is one. He still has a little bit of immaturity in his game which leads him to commit sloppy fouls. Just like the lack of pace is a liability for Godín, this certainly is one for Giménez, although the former Danubio defender has been trying to curb this out of his game of late.
Forming the heart of the defense, they know what to expect from each other. Godín is the leader, who knows all the tricks in the book and is simply one of the smartest stoppers of his generation. He is not the most athletic, yet won’t get outrun or outmuscled because he knows exactly what it takes in a positional sense to stay on top of his opponent.
⚽ Not even the rain could stop us. We're ready to face @RCCelta ?
➕?? https://t.co/aXyaFcRgDO#AúpaAtleti #AtletiCelta pic.twitter.com/YxQquWKyyk
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) March 10, 2018
Giménez is more of a modern defender who does strike you as an athletic player. He still has some things to learn to become a more complete defender but is growing as a player next to his buddy Godín.
The pair now face some of the most important months of their careers as the pursuit of glory at both the club and international level starts to hot up. With Atlético, the Europa League trophy is a clear target, while the World Cup provides a chance to shine for their country.
One thing is sure, when it comes down to sheer heart and passion for the badge, Godín and Giménez will always conquer and make sure, in whatever way, they get the result. It will be key for the destiny of both Atlético and Uruguay in these coming months.