With a mixture of promising youth – Lucas Torreira – and world-class experience – Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez – Uruguay hit the right balance for Russia 2018


Unexpectedly, the Uruguayan football association has revealed the preliminary World Cup squad. FIFA regulations state that participating nations are not obliged to show the preliminary squad to the public and reports suggested that Óscar Tabárez would use that option, only to surprise us on Tuesday night with the sudden announcement of a 26-man roster.

That squad didn’t present a lot of shocks and consisted of the usual suspects but it has still sparked some debate in Uruguay. The two main talking points are the exclusion of PSV Eindhoven player Gastón Pereiro and Tabárez picking Guillermo Varela instead of Jorge Fucile for one of the right-back spots.

Starting with Pereiro, and the 22-year-old is seen as one of the leading figures of the next generation and has had a lot of people asking for the Nacional youth graduate to be called up to the national team. That happened in November 2017 and Pereiro made his debut against Poland. Pereiro didn’t do much in that game and to make his case even weaker, he has been very inconsistent for his club this season.

The talent is clearly there, but on a stage as big as the World Cup, Tabárez has chosen for safer options like Carlos Sánchez and Cristian Rodríguez who can be counted on, despite perhaps being less skillful than Pereiro.

Then there’s the Varela vs. Fucile issue. Varela emerged as the perfect replacement for the aging Maxi Pereira and was praised for his performance with the national team. Fucile, previously an important part of Tábarez’s squad, has made the public believe that he can bring something to the national team with his outstanding displays for Nacional of late. This coincided with a drop in level from Varela, making it a real topic of discussion.

In the end, El Maestro has gone for Varela and that will be the end of that debate.

Squad assessment

Overall, what catches the eye when overlooking the squad is the mix of youth and experience. Some really big names are there of course, but they have been accompanied by upcoming, talented players. Certainly in midfield, Uruguay look rejuvenated with Lucas Torreira, Federico Valverde, Nahitan Nández, Giorgian De Arrascaeata, and Rodrigo Bentancur being the faces of the new generation.

They possess more composure and footballing qualities than many other midfield generations and make life easier for star strikers, Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani. Eventually, it will all come down to those two but with the current midfield, the usual dependency on the front pairing, especially on Suárez, will be significantly lowered as La Celeste now have more aces in the deck.

Moving on to the defense, Uruguay have the advantage of boasting two central defenders right up there with the best in Europe. On top of that, and maybe even more importantly, they play together for Atlético Madrid. We’re talking about Diego Godín and José Giménez of course, who will the key players in Uruguay’s backline. The fullbacks are not at a world-class level but with Martín Caceres and Guillermo Varela in the starting eleven, Uruguay will be alright.

Finally, between the sticks, a familiar name will once again be present. Fernando Muslera will be playing his third World Cup for Uruguay and can become the player with the most appearances at the World Cup for his country. Muslera has experienced some rough patches this season at Galatasaray but has been in stunning form over the last few months.

Three have to go…

When the players join up in the next two weeks, they will be happy to be part of a squad preparing for a World Cup. However, those still unsure of their place in the team will be determined to convince the technical staff as on June the 4th, the 26-man squad will be reduced by three players to finalize the squad that will compete in Russia.


The three names that in my opinion will miss out are Nicolás Lodeiro, Gastón Ramírez and Carlos Sánchez. All three have played a part in getting Uruguay to the 2018 World Cup, especially Sánchez, but as of right now, other players are probably preferred by Tabárez.

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